Dissertation Defense by Ole-Kristian Setnes
Date and Time
Thursday, March 27, 2014 from 1 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Mother Rosalie Hill Hall, 147
San Diego, CA 92110
CENTRAL AND SECONDARY STRUGGLES IN SOCIAL INTERVENTIONS: THE IMPACT OF GROUP RELATIONS LEARNING ON REAL LIFE PRACTICES
Recently, there has been considerable research focusing on outcomes of Group
Relations conferences as a unique form of adult experiential learning. Most of the focus
has been on participants’ learning during and immediately after conferences with less
attention paid to applications of learning outside conferences in participants’ professional
and/or personal lives. The San Diego group relations model is integrated into the
University of San Diego’s graduate leadership studies program. Participants in the study
included 10 individuals who had participated in this model’s experiential learning as
The methodology that was implemented, Relational Qualitative Research,
synthesizes elements from several qualitative research sources. The design treated each
participant as a case, but also allowed participants (functioning as co-researchers) and the
researcher to jointly interpret data through a relational process.
Three dimensions were used in the final analysis. First, discourse theory was used
to identify tacit knowledge in participants’ mode of communication. Second, a sociostructural
concept of central and secondary struggles, was used to discuss the influence
of the class dimension, and third, a distinction between therapy and analysis, was used to
look at whether interventions were therapeutic (i.e., adjusting to circumstances) or
analytic (i.e., looking at social structure).
The participants said that the group relations learning was indispensable to social
interaction in their personal and professional lives. The findings show that participants
express psychoanalytic concepts through ordinary language so that people unfamiliar
with psychoanalysis could relate to their meaning. The participants used tacit knowledge
to activate appropriate modes of communication dependent upon context, but could not
externalize this by turning the tacit and applied knowledge into explicit and conscious
knowledge. To do so would require the use of theory that is likely unknown to them. The
findings also contribute to our understanding of how the central antagonism is surfaced or
displaced in language and thereby indicate the ways the learning can address social
*USD graduate students and faculty are welcome free of charge.