“Get out of the bitter barn and play in the hay”

Hansjörg Znoj, Features of Embitterment, in Embitterment: Societal, Psychological, and Clinical Perspectives 5 (Michael Linden & Andreas Maercker eds. 2011).

The TV show Friends has resurged like no one’s business recently. The quote in the title of this post comes from that show, and it was Phoebe Buffay who said it in “The One With The Prom Video,” which happens to be the first episode of the show that I ever saw. That was the episode that had the whole Chandler/Joey gold bracelet thing, and, of course, the prom video that started the whole Ross and Rachel relationship.

That quote comes to mind whenever I perceived bitterness in myself and others, which I promise is relevant here.

Anyway, this is the first time in this experiment that I have analyzed a book chapter instead of an article. It was helpful in terms of understanding the psychological construct of bitterness, which has been on my mind a lot lately. However, and perhaps more importantly, it showed that book chapters rarely can stand alone in a rewarding way.

In other words, I may know more about embitterment than I did before, but I’m still not really sure what to do about it.

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Law and Life are Complicated and Difficult

Ana Aliverti, The Wrongs of Unlawful Immigration, Criminal Law and Policy, June 2017, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 375–391, https://link-springer-com/article/10.1007/s11572-015-9377-y .

Yesterday I participated in the first in a series of facilitated dialogues about immigration. I volunteer for these facilitated dialogues here at the law school every year because it gives students who are taking the Lawyer as Facilitator class the chance to practice their skills on real humans who are talking about difficult things.

The interesting thing for me about this experience is that I HATE hard conversations and confrontation and differences of opinion. As with many people who have domineering parents and/or self esteem issues, every disagreement becomes, in my mind, a personal attack. And yet, I still volunteer to do this every year. I always hope it will help me get better at and feel better about having difficult conversations in relatively safe spaces, and yet every year I feel just as inept at doing this as I ever did.

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I’m Back; Organizational Justice and Cynicism

Catherine T. Kwantes & Michael H. Bond, Organizational justice and autonomy as moderators of the relationship between social and organizational cynicism, Personality and Individual Differences, v. 151, Dec. 2019, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2019.04.046.

Well, it has been more than two months since I blogged about an article. During that absence from the blog, classes started here at the law school. Between individual research consults, library research classes, and lecturing in legal research and writing, I have been so busy with teaching and getting to know our students that there hasn’t been time for much else.

Yes, this is the life of a reference librarian during the late summer and early fall in an academic law library.

The important thing, of course, is getting back on the horse after you fall off. It is also important to internalize lessons learned through lived experience. I wanted to read and blog daily, but that is just not possible.

So the name of this blog has been changed to “Jennifer’s Occasional Read.” The word “occasional” will mean different things depending on the time of year. Today, it means I have an empty calendar for the first time in a long time, and an article I really want to dig into. So blogging starts again today. Will I blog again tomorrow? Who knows? Today is what matters.

Today’s article discusses social cynicism and organizational justice in the workplace and how they contribute to employees’ organizational cynicism and the health of the organization in general.

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Blogging as an Exercise in Control; Ethnography in Libraries

Donna Lanclos and Andrew D. Asher, “Ethnographish”: The State of Ethnography in Libraries, Weave: Journal of Library User Experience, Volume 1, Issue 5, 2016, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/weave.12535642.0001.503

So I think I am already getting the hang of how blogging will ebb and flow, in terms of the quantity of blog posts that I can reasonably manage at various times of the year. Late July and early August are, obviously, prime for daily reading of articles and blogging about them — it is right after the AALL annual meeting, and I am pumped about new ideas and scholarship. However, as mid-August approaches, we start preparing for the beginning of the academic year, and I have to cut back, which is OK.

I expect I will be back to daily blogging sometime in November, but even then it is too far in the future to worry about today. At least I am managing to do something today, which is good.

What did worry me today is that I noticed that a number of my previous blog posts had had their text replaced with an hyperlinked advertisement. WHAT?!?!?!?! I pay money for this blog and was very unhappy that this could happen. The poor person on the WordPress end of a support chat this morning got an earful from me. (An eyeful?) But they took it like a true pro, and showed me how to revert to previously-saved versions of posts, which I did. They also suggested I change to a stronger password, and I did that as well.

So three cheers for WordPress User Support. I am often on their end of our library’s chat reference, and I hope I handle difficult people as nicely as they handled me.

(Also, maybe I could have been a little less difficult, although I thought that HOURS of work had been deleted forever and I was not happy about it, so I am going to cut myself a little slack.)

Anyway, today’s article continues on the theme from last week: ethnography. I found an article written by two ethnographers who work full-time in academic libraries, and found that they had some very interesting things to say on this topic.

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Conducting Fieldwork While Female, or “Is Crit Always Legit?”

Sandra M. Bucerius and Marta Urbanik, When Crime is a “Young Man’s Game” and the Ethnographer is a Woman: Gendered Researcher Experiences in Two Different Contexts, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 2019, Vol 48(4) 451-481, DOI: 10.1177/0891241618785225

Of all of the articles I have chosen to read during the early days of this experience, this one was far and away my favorite. Perhaps I missed my true calling as an ethnographer!

The authors are female ethonographers who conducted separate research projects that involved studying the behavior and experiences of certain types of men. The participants in Bucerius’s study were young, immigrant, “second-generation Muslim” men who were involved in selling drugs and other criminal activity in the German city of Frankfurt. Urbanik’s research project involved studying young men residing in a public housing project in Toronto, almost all of whom were racial minorities and who lived a “hip-hop” or “gangsta” lifestyle.

These two researchers collaborated on this article to explore the many ways in which the fieldwork required for this type of research can be difficult or dangerous for women. Looking through a gender-specific lens, the authors observed that the men who participated in this study, who were in certain ways socially disadvantaged, felt compelled to engage in “boundary work,” which means that they “increase their self-perceptions by relegating women into even more subordinate positions than they themselves occupy.”

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Librarians: Is Your Community of Practice (CoP) Doing More Harm Than Good?

Sarah Vela, Knowledge Management, Diversity, and Professional Hierarchies in Libraries, Journal of Library Administration, v. 58, no. 8, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2018.1516950.

I had originally scheduled an article about legal translation today. However, after yesterday’s article about identities in the workplace, I decided this was a topic I wanted to spend more time with. Various searches led me to this article from 2018.

The author is a PhD student, and her research on knowledge management (KM) and organizational and cultural management models is quite extensive. With this article, the author is attempting to fill what she views as a gap in the literature: how KM and its influence on organizational behavior manifests itself in libraries.

It took her a while (perhaps a bit too long) to get to the libraries part. She began with a historical explanation of the concept of KM, and how it is based on the idea that there are two levels of knowledge: explicit (“comprehension associated with education and intellect”) and tacit (something that is “learned by doing”).

She also described how, in the literature, a “continuum of the degree of tacitness” of knowledge has been developed, and that the nature of knowledge can change based on where it is located on this continuum.

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Life; Workplace Identity

Theresa M. Welbourne and Ted A. Paterson, Advancing a Richer View of Identity at Work: The Role-Based Identity Scale, Personnel Psychology, 2017, 20, 315-356.

So I have not blogged for a few days. I will avoid getting overly personal except to say that our cat died last Friday. He had been a member of our family for 16 years. He stayed up every night with me while I was studying in law school and library school, and was one of the best friends I have ever had. Anyway, sometimes life gets in the way of blogging.

In addition, sometimes technology also gets in the way of blogging. I started taking notes for today’s article, and then my computer crashed and I lost them. But I think this topic is important, so I pressed ahead.

This article presents research on people’s identities at work, and presents a framework of five identity types:

  • Organization-Based Identity (how someone sees him or herself in relation to “central, distinctive, and enduring characteristics of an organization”)
  • Occupational Identity (how people view themselves from a professional/career standpoint, beyond their current job at their current workplace)
  • Innovator Identity (determined by how people’s sense of innovation and creativity is “incentiviz(ed), manag(ed), and utiliz(ed)” in the workplace)
  • Team Identity (“refers to the degree to which an individual view of self is impacted by membership in a work team.”)
  • Job Identity (how the specific jobs people hold influence their work identities)
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Brief hiatus

So if there is one thing I’ve learned — even one’s best-laid plans must sometimes be changed, and it’s okay as long as you don’t abandon the ship completely. Work is intervening today and tomorrow, so I will be back with a new article report on Friday. Hope you are having a good week!

Most of Your Worries Are Probably Irrational

L.S. LaFreniere and M.G. Newman, Exposing Worry’s Deceit: Percentage of Untrue Worries in Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment, Behavior Therapy, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2019.07.003.

So I decided to change it up a little bit today, and read an article about what is probably my truest nemesis: worrying. This article has been making the rounds on Twitter over the last few days, so I rearranged some stuff to fit it into my Daily Read schedule for today.

The authors undertook a study in which people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) recorded their worries and then reported on whether or not they came true in a therapeutic device called a Worry Outcome Journal (WOJ). Their hypothesis? At least 75% of the worries these people experience will not come true, and the more this happens, the better the persons therapeutic treatment outcome will be.

The participants in this study were 29 undergraduates with GAD, 26 of whom were women and over 75% of whom were white. The authors do note that this means that there will be “restricted generalizability” of study results, given that the participants were “largely white, female, young adult undergraduate students.”

(I’m glad they said that, because seriously? And note that I am a white female too, albeit not so young anymore.)

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Burdens of Women in Academia, Continued…

Citation #1:
Amani El-Alayli, Ashley A. Hansen-Brown, and Michelle Ceynar, Dancing Backwards in High Heels: Female Professors Experience More Work Demands and Special Favor Requests, Particularly from Academically Entitled Students, Sex Roles (2018) 79:136-150, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0872-6

Citation #2: Marlene L. Daut, Becoming Full Professor While Black, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 29, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Becoming-Full-Professor-While/246743

My previous post was about how women in academia are especially burdened to perform uncompensated emotional labor. That theme continues today, albeit with a twist.

The article I had originally scheduled to read today is the first one listed above, which reports two studies conducted by the authors. The authors posited that university students have certain gender-based expectations of their professors, and that they expect female professors to conform to female-specific stereotypes of acting warm and nurturing. Accordingly, female professors are subjected to more scrutiny and more criticism than their male counterparts, especially if they are disinclined to act like “academic mothers.”

The authors further believed that a key variable in this phenomenon is “academic entitlement,” which indicates whether and how much the student feels he or she is owed this treatment by his or her professors.

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