Songs of wonder: an inquiry into wonder and magic in everyday and organisational life

Kabalt, Joeri (2020) Songs of wonder: an inquiry into wonder and magic in everyday and organisational life. DProf thesis, Middlesex University / Ashridge Business School. [Thesis]

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This doctoral research explores which practices might support ‘wonder’ in everyday and organisational life. How do I live my life with a sense of wonder? How do I create spaces of wonder with and for others? How do I create a wonder-full research practice? As an action researcher (Reason & Bradbury, 2008) with a background in Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987), I have endeavoured to ‘live’ these questions myself through developing an approach for wholeheartedly loving and living questions. Specific methods I created to do so are daily morning walks, writing ‘moment-stories’ from within the experience of wonder and creating ‘temporary constellations of inquiry’ with others.

Whereas some believe wonder is impossible because the world is disenchanted, I followed Bennett’s (2001) approach of enchantment by emergence by challenging the discourse of disenchantment individually. Building on Carson (1956/1998), I think of wonder as ‘seeing the extraordinary within the ordinary’ and found this seeing requires a continuous effort and benefits from routines and rituals as a daily reminder and opportunity to wonder. I distinguish between wonder as a way of seeing you can cultivate and ‘moments of magic’ that strike unexpectedly. ‘Windows’ in time when I feel fully alive in a world bursting with life. I learned these potentially transformative moments cannot be forced, predicted or replicated and therefore argue to approach them ‘obliquely’ – by holding the intention and possibility of magic in the corner of your eye. And instead focus on the practices that help you to wonder on a day-to-day basis.

I learned the most important thing I can do as a practitioner to invite others to wonder is to continue to actively and wholeheartedly live my own questions. This allowed me to create the conditions for wonder and magic through showing up differently myself and ‘embodying the container’. I also learned that giving words to wonder through writing and sharing moment-stories can increase the importance and possibility of wonder for myself and others.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Keywords (uncontrolled): Wonder, moments of magic, living questions, moment-stories, morning walks, temporary constellations of inquiry, enchantment by emergence, embodying containers, transformative space, first-person action research, appreciative inquiry
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Ashridge Business School
Item ID: 30617
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2020 17:48
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:49

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