I have been plugging away on writing my dissertation now for the better part of too long, and I keep hitting the same walls over and over again. Today I am struggling with finding my voice. As someone who loves social theory (and theory in general) but have always done some sort of ethnography, alternating between first and third person has been a staple in tying together my experience or field research with a more generalized analysis within the same portion of text. Recently, it has come to my attention that this may be jarring for some readers, and it has been suggested that I separate them into two distinct sections. At first, I thought this was a great solution to the problem I was having trying to find my voice – or rather – the voice / tone of my dissertation. But as I try to untangle experience from idea, each one seems to get lost being on their own. The examples don’t make any sense without being contextualized within the broader frame of existing literature through the use of references and at the same time moving past the existing lit and assigning the example specific meaning within my research and then extrapolating that meaning into a general context beyond my specific experience.
So while the first bit of advice I have been given (to be fair, by several people – no sociologists though heh) is to “pick one” – it is either “I” or “the player” but the more I write, the more I realize that I need both. Each one fulfills a certain purpose, and I cannot seem to find a way to take one or the other out without completely changing the meaning of the text I am writing. And so, the struggle continues as I keep on writing. Hopefully I can reconcile this problem by being a better writer, making the voices distinct through clear, purposeful writing within the text.