For scholars, present time is marked by the inevitable and extensive demand for academic publishing. Many are aware of thoughts and feelings of what it is to write an article or a book, while the mental life of the editor for an academic journal is analysed very seldom. The backstage of reviewing and editing processes is not too familiar to a wider public. Although, the position of editor brings with it many positive aspects, as strange as it is, the editors can not avoid the affective turmoil and perplexed internal dialogues the people in our age have.

In this article that is more like a vignette to the construct of the Dialogical Self, I dare to attempt yet a narrowly oriented analysis of my personal experience while being an editor of international peer-reviewed journal for seven years. This analysis will be based on the exploration of dialogue between my internal and external positions in the landscape of post-modern academic environment. The presented discourse will be intertwined with several theoretical approaches, namely, the Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans, 1996, 2001, 2004, 2008, Hermans & Dimaggio, 2004; Hermans & Kempen, 1993), relationships between self and society in late modernity (Giddens, 1991), Kant’s moral philosophy (1785/1993), and Negotiational Self Theory (Nir & Kluger, 2008).

 

I will start with the description of my general and specific I-positions, engaged in the editorial process. The main part of disclosure will offer an insight into the dialogical dynamics of entangled Self, considering the different types of dialogue, recalling the opposite voices while being editor, and testifying to the dominant and suppressed voices. The dilemmas of the editor’s self in late modernity are illuminated in the wider social context of analysis. The article ends with the summary of the results from self-negotiation process.

 

General and specific I-positions in editorial process

 

Let us begin with the account of active positions that have emerged as the set of dominating self-aspects starting with the time when the duties of editor were assumed. {quotes}Some of these positions had already been existent in my internal landscape before entering this new field of work {/quotes}, others were gradually created and maintained in order to meet both the self-instilled and externally confirmed requirements. The dominating I-positions (Hermans, 2001), having direct relationships with the internal position of editor as a safe-guard of quality of academic writing, were the following:

  • Researcher (conducting research, publishing articles, participating in projects, etc.);
  • Teacher at university (teaching courses (Educational philosophy, Research methods, Academic writing, etc.) important for editorial expertise);
  • Educator (in general sense – both instructor and nurturer of values);
  • Doctor of Psychology (having background in Psychology);
  • Auditor/Manager (continuous monitoring/control/leading of the process);
  • Member of faculty/institute (member of academic institutions with specific culture: history, hierarchy, features, etc.);
  • Emotionally neutral person (disinterested and objective evaluator).

 

While the collection of these positions did not change through entire editorial process, each separate stage of editorial process aroused several additional positions coordinated with the specific features of the given stage (see Table 1). The further reflection showed that, actually, the configuration and hierarchy of positions at every stage of editorial process need to be constructed anew. Each stage of editorial process entails a peculiar type of dialogue between a large number of internal and external positions. Besides, the maintenance of the dialogue between this huge diversity of positions asks for sophisticated and skilful management.

 

Table 1. Specific positions at subsequent stages of editorial process

 

1. Reading the paper after submission (internal dialogue)

2. Asking authors for improvements  before  reviewing process (internal/external dialogue)

3. Work with  reviewers (internal/external dialogue)

4. Sending authors the review and receiving the article back with improvements (internal/external dialogue)

Reviewer

Reviewer

Would-be reviewer

Would-be reviewer

Would-be author

Would-be author

Facilitator

Would-be author

Critical friend

Critical friend

Acquaintance of some reviewers

Discipliner

 

Supplicant

Supplicant

Supplicant

 

Representative of state, faculty/institute

Representative of state, faculty/institute

Empathetic colleague

 

 

 

Provider of consolation

 

Several positions are preserved in two or three stages while some of them appear for specific reasons just in one stage. Stage 4 contains the largest number of positions that could be possibly explained by the fact that in this stage the editor should become the carrier not only of his/her own voice but also the voices of the reviewers. The management of the positions during this last stage asks for ultimate care and caution both because of the largest number of positions and their implicitly conflicting nature.

 

Disentanglement of self: Dialogical dynamics of voices

 

In the light of the Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans & Kempen, 1993), the interaction of presented positions is characterised by different types of dialogue. The internal dialogue was carried out 1) between my I-positions; 2) between me (from a certain I-position) and external positions (e.g., with God, the dean of the faculty, colleagues, friends, authors, reviewers, etc.). The external dialogue was 1) virtual (via Internet with authors and reviewers) or 2) actual (face-to-face with the dean of the faculty, colleagues in Latvia and abroad, friends, etc.). Recalling the frequency and extensiveness of encounters, the most active dialogue was the one between my I-positions. The external virtual dialogue and internal dialogue between some external position and me were not so active. The least active and frequent was the actual external dialogue. This leads to the question: what should be the balance of different types of dialogue in order to maintain a healthy and sustainable coexistence of different I-positions? In addition, the self-observation shows that structure or content of external actual dialogue with real individuals quite often does not even resemble the structure or content of internal dialogue with these individuals as internalized external positions.

Beside the fact that all positions mentioned above were engaged in certain type of a dialogue, the relationships between these positions were based on certain equality. All these dominating positions, though hardly manageable and not so easily structured, were useful, to a different extent, for the flourishing of the editor’s position. However, the responsibilities of editor elicited also the notably conflicting oppositions between I-positions either directly associated with the editorial position or indirectly related to dominating I-positions mentioned in the previous section of the article (see Table 2).

 

Table 2. Conflicting I-positions associated with being an editor

 

Oppositions directly related to dominating I-positions

Oppositions indirectly related to dominating I-positions

Doctor of Psychology vs Editor of journal specialized in Education

Perfectionist/workaholic vs Lazy, superficial person

Acquaintance of some reviewers vs Being objective, demanding Editor

Feminine identity (polite, submissive, empathetic) vs Masculine identity (strict, assertive, authoritative)

Being supplicant vs Being auditor/manager

Overstrained efforts vs Disappointment with internal and external rewards

Helping authors with research vs Postponing own research

Subordinated to the administration of own faculty/university vs Attaining authority for authors, reviewers internationally

Actually alone (no family and editorial team) vs Virtual leader (manager) for authors, reviewers

Latvian (nationality and native language) vs Editing journal in English

 

Some of these oppositions worked out creating a successful integration, others were not so easily reconcilable and negotiation between them took longer, while some oppositions gradually became even more distinct and devastating.

After having a look at the dominating positions and those in conflicting opposition, it is time to turn to the suppressed positions while being an editor. Some of these silenced positions already appeared in the tables above, some of them undergone gradually increasing suppression, some of them were concealed from the first day of assuming the responsibility of Editorialship. So, the list of the most suppressed positions would include: woman, Latvian, Christian, emotionally sensitive person, proactive person, researcher, person with non-academic interests, and friend. Some of these voices were suppressed by myself involuntarily, others were muted by internalized expectations of home institution and global academic community. Admittedly, the majority of these positions were also suppressed by the lack of time and mental resources to attend to them or by the inappropriateness of the position for the formal requirements of Editorial position. Though a detailed account of this process would ask for much longer analysis, it needs to be acknowledged that it was also possible to get some psychological rewards or compensation from this suppression.

 

Tribulations of the editor and threat of meaninglessness

 

According to Giddens (1991), “’Living in the world’, where the world is that of late modernity, involves various distinctive tensions and difficulties on the level of the self” (p. 187). It seems that dilemmas of Self, presented by Giddens, could help to substantiate at least some of entanglements of self, mentioned above.

Focusing on the dilemma between unification vs fragmentation in relation to the self, unification is formulated as a possibility to protect and reconstruct the self in the face of unremitting changes of modern life (ibid.). For editor, being connected with a large diversity of persons and places in time and space, rarely allows for the solid and complete integration of self, and the fragmented experience now and then turns into the source of anxiety building. The world intrudes into presence via various channels and sources forcing to lead and interrelate simultaneously several types of dialogue. However, when the self tries to find the resources of resilience, “distant events may become as familiar, or more so, than proximate influences, and integrated into the frameworks of personal experience” (Giddens, 1991, p.189) – and this is exactly how the internal and external dialogues of editor are reconciled and dealt with. The question could be legitimately asked in this regard: What if distant events gradually take over proximate influences and individual is forced to submerge into the virtual and internal dialogues without any hope to fulfil his/her life with authentic face-to-face interaction?

Fragmentation is also fostered by the diversely oriented demands to the different I-positions in any particular situation and conflicting I-positions described above. Should editor “sensitively adjust the ‘presentation of self’ in relation to whatever is demanded of a particular situation” (p.190)? In my case it is illustrated the best by the specific positions at subsequent stages of editorial process (see Table 1). However, here the moral issue rises in relation to when and how the presentation of the self depending on situation turns into becoming exactly as others expect us to be, therefore playing the pervasive game of pretending to be what you are not, disguising the inconvenient I-positions, etc.

Returning to the Dialogical Self play pokies online Theory, the dilemma between the unification and fragmentation could be viewed also from the perspective of centrifugal (multivoicedness) and centripetal forces (the creation of coherence and unity through jeux casino en ligne gratuit dialogue) in a multivoiced, yet substantial self. The idea to balance the unification (centripetal trend) and fragmentation (centrifugal trend) seems natural as both trends can be dangerous: on the one hand, in terms of the ontological unity of the self-contained individualist, on the other hand – causing the risk of neglecting the self as a source of agency (Hermans, 2004).

It seems relevant to refer to the quote from Altman (1987) utilized by Herman (1996) in his commentary on McAdams article:

I must reiterate that neither centrifugal nor centripetal trends are intrinsically “good” or “bad”. One can praise or decry centripetal trends, for example, as reflecting status quo and stagnation on the negative side, or unity, harmony, and stability on the positive side. Similarly, centrifugal trends can be viewed negatively, for example, as indicating divisiveness and disunity, or positively, for example, as allowing for enrichment and exploration of new directions. (…) Rather we should attempt to assess their respective strength, directions, and characteristics in order to adjust to and capitalize on their qualities (pp. 1062-1063).

Consequently, transferring this integrative idea to our discourse, the challenge is to reach the possibility and skills to balance the centrifugal and centripetal forces within the internal and external environment of editorial work. However, recognizing the legitimate nature of centrifugal trend, one should be cautioned against becoming a “flexible and polyvocal performer whose intentions are contingent and context-bound, whose (self-)reflexivity is reduced to a serene awareness of containing potentially incommensurable, relatively autonomous voices within” (Zielke, 2009, p.5).

Presenting the dilemma of powerlessness vs appropriation, Giddens targets the interesting aspect that could be well related to global academic community:  “Even if distance and powerlessness do not inevitably go together, the emergence of globalized connections, together online slot machines with high consequence risks, represent ?????? ?????? parameters of social life over which the situated individual has relatively little control” (p. 192). The project of international journal is a global project involving committed people all around the world, and editor relies and depends on them and their performance of their duties. Evidently, these people also work from their own I-positions and external expectations and their inner dialogue might work telling them what is appropriate or inappropriate to do in their online pokies positions as authors or reviewers.

An editor should vest trust in all his/her partners thereby recognizing his/her lack of power to influence them. Trusting and relegating to others some play online casinos important responsibilities in order to do the common work have to be integrated with the controlling and managing I-position. Therefore, vesting of trust can also generate new capacities. However, sometimes when the power to influence the possibility of proper outcome in relation to the main duty of editor – guarding the quality of academic writing – is lacking, we may speak of engulfment or a sense of total powerlessness.

The last dilemma that is relevant to this discourse is that of authority vs uncertainty.  According to Giddens, “through the protective cocoon, most people are buffered most of the time from the experience of radical doubt as a serious challenge either to the routines of daily activity or to more far-reaching ambitions (p.195-196)”. As an editor having responsibility for journal for many years I was expected to be an authority for authors/reviewers as well as an expert in casino the academic writing and thematic area of the journal. For a young scholar having submissive and obedience-oriented relationships within her own institution, to hide her uncertainty and to present authority in global context is a challenging and complicated process asking for continuous internal and external negotiation.

Having described these dilemmas of self, Giddens warns us against the threat of personal meaninglessness. He rightfully suggests that “the project of the self has to be reflexively achieved in a technically competent but morally arid social environment” (p.201). In fact, scrutinizing such endeavour of late modernity as academic publishing, we stumble upon the necessity to build such an internal referential system of the self that is based on pure technical academic competence ignoring the more sophisticated and intrinsic demands of moral nature for all individuals involved in this project (this does not refer to ethical issues of research or publishing that could also be related to technical competence).

 

Summary: Results of self-negotiation

 

And so, the theoretical concept of dialogical self seems to be legitimate as it helps to adapt psychology’s models to the conditions of a world where inter- and transcultural dialogues have become an every day necessity (Zielke, 2009).

In order to summarize the experiential discourse, the simple thought re-appearing in countless local and global, internal and external contexts could be useful: nowadays quite frequently we have too few internal and external resources for exaggerated, irrelevant, or artificially created social and personal demands. In other words, the resources allotted are not enough for sustaining job demands or personal wishes and needs for a longer period of time. An essential issue is the difficulties fostering an internal dialogue by external dialogue. As it was already mentioned, lack of diverse and prolonged external/authentic dialogue may consolidate the situation of living out of fallacious referential system of the self. Such a situation cannot continue for long, especially if striving for personal meaningfulness is prevalent in individuals’ mental landscape.

According to Zielke (2009) while the constructionist perspective opposes any kind of universal discourse ethics, the moral problem of some voices in dialogue being oppressed or drowned out by more powerful others is not simply evaded. In her article she stresses the pragmatic and regulative criterion for good dialogue – relational responsibility.As “a regulative standard even constructionism is engaged with, it is supposed to install a kind of ethical principle for productive dialogues without claiming universally applicable criteria for the dealing with conflict, difference or social power. It merely invites all participants to be as open for other positions as possible: this will help to enhance dialogue and reduce fixation without imposing universal standards” (p. 4).

However, as much as respecting “a species of curious openness towards all local and general others” (ibid.), the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant could show some turn of thought that seemingly should not come in conflict with the idea of relational responsibility. In his “Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals” he wrote that “a person has perfect duty not to use the humanity of themselves or others merely as a means to some other end” (Kant, 1785/1993) and this idea since then has become one of the most wishful values of modernity. In this vein, one could say, grounding on the assumption of significance of all I-positions for person as diverse as they are; if some I-positions are used just as a means for other I-positions, we violate our moral duty and become no better than slave-owner who can do anything he wants with the slaves on the premises that he has the ownership rights for them.

Therefore, the idea of responsiveness coincides with the idea of power relations in dialogical self (Hermans & Dimaggio, 2004) and it “calls for an account of pluralistic, but not indifferent multivoiced dialogues as a special kind ofmeaningful practice” (Zielke, 2009, p.6).

So, looking for resources to sustain meaningful life and feeling the necessity to confirm the non-instrumental significance of internal positions, the only reasonable way to deal with all issues and questions posed in this analysis was to engage in the intentional internal and dialogical negotiation. The Negotiational Self Theory (Nir & Kluger, 2008) says: whenever we experience inner conflict and need to make a decision, our internal dialogue becomes a negotiation process between different and opposing parts of the self (self-aspects). And, just like negotiations between people, these internal negotiations can be resolved either in distributive win-lose, or integrative win-win strategies. In win-lose internal negotiations, dominant self-aspects overpower weaker ones, leaving the needs of submissive self-aspects lacking and unfulfilled. In contrast, in win-win internal negotiations, a creative solution is constructed that allows conflicting self-aspects to be both acknowledged and mutually satisfied.

However, the internal and external negotiations while being an editor, in their majority were resolved in distributive win-lose strategies. Dominant self-aspects overpowered weaker ones, leaving the needs of submissive self-aspects lacking and unfulfilled. Suppressed voices listed above lost their motivational strength and some of them lost even their functional applicability.

And finally, closing this discourse with the outcomes of this entanglement, it should be said that the social, psychological and economic situation in Latvia in 2009 aided as an impetus to gradual re-evaluation of position of editor in the wider context of mental health, well-being and personal meaningfulness: from being in the core of my social positions to being less important entity of my identity. The social context of life precipitated the final decision – resigning from editorial position. The question stays: was it active mastery of life or giving up due to lacking the creative skills of internal and external negotiation or influence of some other factors? Even if we perceive this discourse as the description of failure, sometimes the failure is “the key for perceiving difference which otherwise would remain veiled (…). In this sense failure is a crucial challenge for transformative dialogues” (Zielke, 2009, p.7).

As concerns the unique features of the described case, having additional family roles and editorial team consisting of several experts the self-reflections would possibly take a different turn. It seems that the outcomes could not be evaluated immediately as just good or bad: it is the re-arrangement of personal I-positions and the life will show if this change will prove successful.

This short account included one single aspect of entanglements regarding the editorial position. The other aspects might be analysed in the light of attribution theory, work stress and burnout, work-life balance, professional motivation, etc.

 

References:

 

Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Hermans, H.J. (1996) Bridging traits, story, and Self: Prospects and Problems. Psychological Inquiry, 7(4), 330-334.

 

Hermans, H.J.M. (2001). The dialogical self: Toward a theory of personal and cultural positioning. Culture & Psychology,7(3), 243–281.

 

Hermans, H.J.M. (2004, August). The dialogical self: Faces beyond the skin. Keynote presentation at the 3rd International Conference on the Dialogical Self. Warshaw, Poland.

 

Hermans, H.J.M. (2008). How to perform research on the basis of dialogical self theory? Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 21, 185-199.

 

Hermans, H.J.M, & Dimaggio, G. (2004). The dialogical self in psychotherapy. New York: Brunner & Routledge.

 

Hermans, H.J.M., & Kempen, H.J.G. (1993). The dialogical self: Meaning as movement. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

 

 

Kant, I. (1993). Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (3rd ed.). (W. James, Trans.). Ellington Hackett. (Original work published 1785)

 

Nir, D., & Kluger, A.N. (2008, August). The Negotiational Self Theory: From mayhem and inner conflict to harmony and integration within a dialogical self. Paper presented at the The 5th International Conference on the Dialogical Self, Cambridge, UK.

 

Zielke, B. (2009). Failing better. Reflections, comments, and questions considering a social constructionist concept of dialogue. Journal für Psychologie, 17(2). Retrieved May 6, 2010 from Directory of Open Access Journals