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Pesquisas e Práticas Psicossociais

versão On-line ISSN 1809-8908

Pesqui. prát. psicossociais vol.12 no.4 São João del-Rei out./dez. 2017




Field diary: the author as a protagonist


Diario de campo: el autor como protagonista


Diário de campo: autor como protagonista



Estela ScheinvarI; Maria Lívia do NascimentoII

IProfessora do Departamento de Educação e do Programa de Pós-graduação em Políticas Públicas e Formação Humana, da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro
IIProfa. Dra. do Instituto de Psicologia. Programa de Pós-graduação em Psicologia,Universidade Federal Fluminense




This article presents some analyses of intervention practices carried out in schools and tutorial councils, taking two references as methodological basis: 1) the institutional analysis proposed by René Lourau and Georges Lapassade, which problematizes the naturalization of institutional relations and their heterogeneity; 2) Michel Foucault's concept of "event", which calls into question the analysis of relations sustained in patterns of truth. To follow the course of the analyses, we take a powerful auxiliary: the field diary as a tool that allows the strangeness of ways of codifying practices.

Keywords: Field Diary; Institutional Analysis; Event; Michel Foucault.


O presente artigo traz algumas análises sobre práticas de intervenção realizadas em escolas e conselhos tutelares, tomando como base metodológica duas referências: 1) a análise institucional proposta por René Lourau e Georges Lapassade que problematiza a naturalização das relações institucionais e a heterogestão das mesmas; 2) o conceito de acontecimento de Michel Foucault, que coloca em questão a análise das relações sustentadas em padrões de verdade. Para acompanhar o percurso das análises, tomamos um potente auxiliar: o diário de campo como ferramenta que possibilita o estranhamento de modos de codificação das práticas.

Palavras-chave: Diário de campo; Análise institucional; Acontecimento; Michel Foucault.


El presente artículo trae algunos análisis sobre prácticas de intervención realizadas en escuelas y consejos tutelares, basados, metodológicamente, en dos referencias: 1) el análisis institucional propuesto por René Lourau y Georges Lapassade, que problematiza la naturalización de las relaciones institucionales y la heterogestión de las mismas; 2) el concepto de acontecimiento de Michel Foucault, con el que se cuestiona el análisis de las relaciones sostenidas en patrones de verdad. Para acompañar el precurso de los análisis, tomamos un potente auxiliar: el diario de campo, como herramienta que posibilita el extrañamiento de los modos de codificación de las prácticas.

Palabras claves: Diario de campo; Análisis institucional; Acontecimiento; Michel Foucault.



Socioanalytic intervention as an internship practice

For almost twenty years we have been supervising internships in three distinct fields: in the former Childhood and Youth Court, tutelary councils and basic education schools3. Methodologically, we conduct this work mainly through two references: firstly, the Institutional Analysis, a proposal formulated by René Lourau (sociologist) and Georges Lapassade (pedagogue), both French, who problematize, among others, the naturalization of institutional relations and its heteromanagement; secondly, the concept of "event" from Michel Foucault, which calls into question the analysis of relations based on patterns of truth. Concerned with the premise that the institutionalization of relationships legitimates their ways of functioning and, therefore, calls people to join them without questioning them, these authors propose both a conceptual analysis and a construction of techniques to subsidize a professional practice that makes the habits, the annoyances, the powerful silences and the whispers, into tools of intervention.

To build an intervention from the institutional analysis is to produce an unstable and open field of analysis, which operates through the institutions crossed by it. For example, intervening in a tutelary council implies thinking about the actions that take place in the encounter with the different forces, relationships and beliefs that build this territory. In other words, the intervention must consider that the practices of the tutelary council are impregnated with the movements instituted by the public policies directed at children and adolescents, by institutions such as school, religion, developmental psychology and others, by legislation that affirms the protection of the juvenile population, among other forces that take place in the council's daily life.

Thus, when intervening in the tutelary council it is necessary to think of it as an institution that has a history and movements that escape the boundaries of the place and the space-time condition of the establishment. By this logic, an institution would be a historical form produced and reproduced by social practices that are becoming naturalized and that affirm truths that are instituted, codified, that create regulations and norms, losing their historical reference. Thereby, to institutionalize is to compose discipline, to affirm essences. Institutional analysis as a method of intervention acts as a strangeness to what is institutionalized, affirming that in this process there are two movements: the instituted and the instituted to be. In this way, it shows that in the midst of the truths considered absolute - the instituted - there are gaps, experiments that are not yet palpable, which causes differences: experiences, acts, relationships that move away from what is defined as subjected - the instituted ones. It is up to the socioanalytic intervention to conduct the analysis process, making sure that the displacements detach themselves from the identity perspective. For this purpose, it operates with its own tools, among them the implication analysis and the field diary.

The implication analysis refuses the analysts' neutrality. To analyze the place occupied by them, their practices of knowledge-power as producers of truths, their effects and what they put into operation, is to break with the logic of permanent naturalization of the process of institutionalization. As discussed by Coimbra and Nascimento (2007), "the implications analysis brings to the field of analysis feelings, perceptions, actions, events hitherto considered negative or strange, as deviations and errors ..." (p.29). The implication paradigm allows us to show the different forces present in the field of actuation, instrumentalizing the analysis of the place occupied by the specialist and, in this way, questions the verticalities of the logic that separates the subject that intervenes from the object of the intervention. Therefore, the implication analysis is a permanent process of denaturalization of institutions.

An important tool for carrying out the implication analysis is the field diary, which operates as a narrative of day-to-day intervention, historicizing it, rescuing it, potentializing it, in other words, enabling analysis by the act of writing. Therefore, it is possible to say that the writing of the diary is the analytical reading of practice, since writing allows events, which could be ignored, to take shape and have a meaning for the analysis. From this perspective, the exercise of writing problematizes how we affect ourselves, our strangeness and difficulties, allowing us to stir up the instituted. It should be said: the writing as risk and displacement.


Paradoxes between the analysis and the criticism

The field diary is a technical instrument that produces an intervention in the reality in question by problematizing both what is called analysis and how it should be done. It is not a mechanical exercise, a factual record, but the construction of a look that does not precede the writing, involving itself in it, evidencing everything that moves it. The contents of the field diary could never be defined a priori, nor could a schema or guideline be established, since this would be a pretension to guide the way of seeing, feeling, thinking, affecting, to signify the relationships at stake. Unlike the concept of "social fact" proposed by Durkheim, who grounds the positivist method, the field diary proposed by institutional analysis and in the light of Michel Foucault's concept of event does not attribute any value to any episode, act and situation. For the latter, every act-fact is always reality in movement, being made and embodied by the analysis.

In Durkheim's words, "Every way of doing is a social fact, whether fixed or not, which can exert an external coercion on the individual, or which is general in the set of a given society having at the same time an own existence, independent of its individual manifestations" (1995, p. 13). That is, social fact has coercive functions on individual initiatives, because it is outside people's consciousness, according to "a set of rules and determining what is right or wrong, allowed or prohibited" (1995, p.10). Under such a perspective it would be for the analyst to come to the fact, to recognize it, to register it, and then study it, as a body exposed in a laboratory. The fact precedes the action and perception of the individual. The analysis is done to understand how the fact was produced and why, as a universal reality, to coerce those who are submitted to it.

Shifting such a view, Michel Foucault proposes to understand relationships as an event, whose sense will not be to coerce people independently of their way of thinking and being, but by defining the effect produced by the bodies in action. Not that the will to domination is exhausted by working under the logic of the event, but it breaks the chains of a fact that is always objective, external, alien to the will of the people: "The forces that are at stake in history do not obey either to a destination, or to a mechanic, but to the struggle's hazard". Never-ending movements, never pre-defined, under the domain of chance, "as the ever-renewed risk of the will to power which, in order to control it, opposes the risk of even greater chance" (Foucault, 1982, p.28).

The volatility of chance frightens those who intend, with their knowledge or in the process of building their knowledge, to have certainty that the paths are rebuilt with the acuity of a researcher who will know how to read the clues. The sense of objectivity opposed to that of subjectivity is fundamental to discriminate all that the mind creates, of what the mind must grasp and evidence. Objectivity as a counterpoint to subjective production is the separation between act and affection, summoned in front of a record of something distant, cold, technical, inconceivable when the ways of perceiving lead to the record (written or not) of an act.

Edgardo Castro, in his Vocabulário de Foucault (2009, pp. 24-25), discriminates four meanings of the term event, in the study he makes from the thinker's work. Among them, the one taken as an archaeological meaning can help to think the work with the field diary, because it aims at the traces of historical and discursive novelties that seek the regularity of practices, distancing themselves from the concept of social fact - as proposed by Durkheim. These are regularities that escape the evolutionist perspective, articulating "the discontinuity of regularities, the chance of their transformations, the materiality of their conditions of existence" (p.25). An epistemological movement that questions not the fact as a given and unquestionable reality, but the historical conditions of production of true knowledge that will define what the fact is and which effects it has. Truth does not precede the act of registering, it is not exposed to be recorded, but it is constructed in the encounter with what becomes a fact, producing an ontology of the present, a crossed look by the genealogical and ethical perspective.

When a mother is judged by both the school staff and the tutelary council for not being in time to pick up her children because she stayed home watching television, a certainty is given: she is negligent in her relationship with the school. Compulsory schooling, the ways in which relationships are established in this family, the imposition by the school of family tasks as a condition for the performance of pedagogical activities ... these, among other elements, do not compete with the construction of what is defined as social fact - in this case, the negligence of the mother -, coercing to those who are not aligned with it. Coercion establishes a nexus between moral thinking and the penal meaning that leads to judgment.

What sustains a record of the social fact is its objectivity. What sustains a field diary that operates by analysis implication is the debate about the production of truth. Foucault understands truth as a relation of power, differing from the act of looking at truth as something to be discovered and accepted, insofar as truth responds to a set of rules and procedures, which produce discourses. Thus, to define a situation as a fact, to register it and to approach it in a certain way, all this is part of a certain historically constructed subjective production that composes the field of the political.

From this perspective, writing a field diary is to construct reality by a certain discursive order and not a simple act of technical reproduction. Analyzing each perception, shuddering truths, is a bet in the understanding of the logics that sustains the practices read by our gaze, before judging their truth or qualifying the agreements. By weaving practices and our look at them, that is, how we construct reality, an interrogation emerges to be worked out by shifting our experience of the patterns of truth and by opening ourselves to recognizing multiple prisms to deal with relationships. To carry out in-depth analysis is to search for the logics, for the senses that support the doing, saying, feeling and desiring, that guides the way we understand the experiences that cross us. Far from the idea of ​​criticizing what we find in professional life, the diary is useful to understand, without the pretense of judging. Criticizing would be to try to adjust a way to understand and act from certain ideas adopted as references and, in that sense, would have to be adopted by others. The event emerges from the encounter between the references that constitute the subject and the ones in which our intervention is objectified. It never precedes our gaze, because it is the effect of it. Criticism carries an intention of correction and adaptation. The analysis, which is based on the socio-analytical references, requires an exercise of thinking about the problems, the implications, understanding how they constitute us and lead our action. Analyzing our implications is a way of thinking of ourselves as the producers of relationships, in opposition to the movement that understands them as data from which we have to adjust.


The author as a protagonist

The writing of a field diary from the perspective of institutional analysis is a collective practice, even when it is authorial. Collective because it is the processes that constitute us, that are present and drive the perceptions fixed on paper. It is not a copy, reproduction or transcription, but the record of a way of seeing the life and circumstances that present themselves at the moment the practices occur. Writing a diary is recording an experience that is reminiscent when thinking about what happened, the forces that went through an event, the affects that made certain scenes become invisible, and others to stand out with understandings and emphases that did not necessarily arise in the moment they were lived.

In addition to being an authorial practice, the field diary is responsible for relationships because it produces events, by highlighting - with its densities and forms - what is recorded. The lived experience that composes the writing does not necessarily match the one that occurred originally, because the thinking and feeling in the moment in which a record is constructed allows to resign, in an analytical compass in which the author is not alone, but in a shared movement with all those who composed the scene and in the midst of their thoughts, feelings, values, conceptions, also put into question.

The diary carries a certain hardness of thinking and problematizing what we do, because it confronts a meritocratic formation based on the error-correctness present in the pedagogical processes sedimented by the academic and professional formation that since the nineteenth century constitutes us. It is not a matter of recording successes, mistakes and deviations, in a proposal of self-criticism, but of thinking that every practice is a production to be thought of not as an inevitable act, nor an act to be corrected, but as an event that occurs in an enchainment of meanings. Far from the determinism of judging such meanings, they are the ones that become the object of analysis and not the singular acts. These can be read, felt, understood, in a variety of ways, not by a voluntarism, but by the enchainment of logics present both in the act in question and in its reworking in the field diary. The analysis can only be creative if it is free to circulate between possibilities not perceived or not summoned in the act of registration.

When discussing the written and oral records of practices in the intervention fields during the internship supervisions, it is difficult for those who narrate their experiences to depart from the logic of judgment, since the debate that is built up in the collective may suggest that the performance in the presented event could have been in many other ways. Its wealth is not in teaching to do right or better, since the performance can always be another, since life is intensity and chance. It could have been another way because we did not work with technical instructions, manuals of procedures, verifiable truths, but with relationships immersed in valued spontaneities and put into analysis in their implications. For this reason, the practices narrated by the students compose what can be understood within the idea of ​​being "other": one among all the possible ones. In this field of possibilities, the supervision routes the analysis of what is recorded in the diary, highlighting, even, the displacements that this instrument causes from what happened. We do not judge, we put it into analysis.

Through this path, the disagreements in the working field emerge as analytical challenges and lead to the search for tools to intervene in ways throughout the professional ways takes place, in a collective exercise. Intervention that is not given as an adjustment of the diary's author in the professional practice (his and his colleagues'), but as a movement to think the fundamentals that led the practices: internal relations, hardened routines, bets, beliefs, expectations, delusions, tensions, in short, everything that composes the professional life, which is not enough though, even less in the collective.

Collective. Never individual. Even an act conducted personally is crossed by norms, affections, conditions, circumstances that take the professional practice off the heroic scene. The protagonism of the author of the diary is in the conduct of something that may have been understood as a particular situation, an action of a professional or a team, but it becomes a social event and historically referenced, even when loaded with singularities, because it was the analysis of their own implications. For this reason, Lourau (1993) affirms that the field diary in a socioanalytic intervention is not an intimate exercise, but a collective movement - less by the fingers that write the text and more by the ideas that compose it.

With tears in her eyes, a children's teacher reads in her field diary the scene that destabilized her: the boy once again did not allow the work to be done in the classroom, because the strategy designed to entertain him with the few activities with which he was linked did not have the expected effect, and the responses the teacher had available were the current norm at school and well known by the student considered undisciplined. Referring him to the school principal, which led to his suspension, had as an answer the boy's revolt through the weapons he also had at hand: profanity. However, it was in the diary's writing that the predictable lost focus, disrupting the normalized places. A writing that provokes movements and recomposes the scene reported through collective analyses makes us think that: 1) the strategy known to give a particular task refers to the need for a singular approach, since the student had singularities that prevent the follow-up of the disciplinary order with the other colleagues, and the lack of an adequate structure in this school that allows him to also have a routine; 2) the disrespect for the superiors was a cry of resistance to a disrespect that the boy faces, since everyone knows that he is not able to follow the order imposed on him; 3) the limit of the school is obedience to the order and it only offers the exclusion of those who do not follow the rules; 4) conducting him to the school principal and giving him suspension is a normalized look of refusal to deviations from life and the assertion that not everyone can be in school. Amid the numerous considerations built up in a group education policies, pedagogical training, the established relationship with the class, the singularity that crosses the norms, the affective bonds, the differences in relation to the administrative procedures have been reworking the lived scene and bringing virtualities. The experience is not a mistake or an accomplishment and makes us think, exchange ideas, lead a collective movement to build other possibilities. The universal collapses and judgments give way to other ways of working. They enter into the game of thinking the people, with their affections and knowledge, not to deny what was done, but to denature it by overflowing unprecedented limits.

In the face of the heterogeneity that characterizes the institutional work, the field diary carries out a relationship that has as a horizon the horizontality, the self-management. It puts on the scene everything and everyone who in writing emerges as participants, summoning them to contribute to the analysis through their speeches, practices or the bonds that the problematizations create. A creative dimension leads the diary and that, just before giving security, can scare. Education without a previous shape? No rules? Without certainties? No models to follow? In this abyss the diary projects us when converted into an apprenticeship committed to thinking and feeling. Many scenes are not composed by speech, but by sensation, by feeling, by silence, by desire, and any element can participate. An instrument to operate in practice and not a technical manual to carry in the bag, hoping it contains the right answers. Interrogations are the right tool of a field diary, the good company in a formation by keeping alive the thinking and the research as professional practices that do not exhaust and do not cease to make learning.

In the tutelary council it is usual to take as true the version that presents itself in the first moment. Namely, it is usually the first interview, the first contact, the speech of the first attended in each case that holds true as the story that has real force. The writing of the diary makes it possible to think about the daily gesture, the need to listen to other voices and bring power of refusal to the already given as certain. Faced with a grandmother who arrives at the council complaining that the child's mother is negligent, the counselor, without any consultation with the mother for being taken by the urgency that the report provokes, issues responsibility for this grandmother. Next, the mother comes to the board demanding the child back. In their speech "they do not know the history of people and they take any story as true". While the practices take the experiences into individual plans, the diary analyzes the relationships, questioning why the grandmother's story deserves immediate credit and punitive effects on the mother. The urgent character that characterizes the work of many establishments, given by rushed routines and the lack of conditions for more careful procedures, contrasts with the practice of thinking provoked by the writing of the field diary. In it, the professional doing is rebuilt not by accusations of failure, but by possible displacements in the exercise of collective thinking.

The process necessary to deconstruct the prisons of the instituted is long, demanding from us the reinvention through practices of intervention to think what is fixed and naturalized in the world. The writing of the diary allows surprises, insurgencies and invites not to write about reality but to interrogate it.



Castro, E (2009). Vocabulário de Foucault: um percurso pelos seus temas, conceitos e autores. Belo Horizonte: Autentica.         [ Links ]

Coimbra, C. & Nascimento, M. L. (2007). Sobreimplicação: práticas de esvaziamento político? (p. 27-38). In: Arantes, E. M. M.; Nascimento, M. L. & Fonseca, T. M. G. (Orgs). Práticas PSI: inventando a vida. Niterói: EdUFF.         [ Links ]

Durkheim, E. (1995). As regras do método sociológico (Trad. Paulo Neves), São Paulo: Martins Fontes.         [ Links ]

Foucault, M. (1982). Nietzsche, a genealogia e a história. (p.12-22). In: M. Foucault. Microfísica do Poder. Rio de Janeiro: Graal Ed.         [ Links ]

Lourau, R. (1993). Análise institucional e práticas de pesquisa. Rio de Janeiro: UERJ.         [ Links ]



Recebido em 05/09/2017
Aprovado em 05/12/2017



1 These internships take place in university classes in the fields of psychology (UFF) and pedagogy (UERJ). Namely: the internship at the former Child and Youth Court for one year; the internship in tutelary councils for fifteen years and the internship in the classrooms of Early Childhood Education and Elementary School for ten years. All between 2001 and 2017.

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