Connected people: exploring collaboration and ethics though the concept of ‘diffraction’

This project uses 'exploratory/collaborative' methodology drawing on Diffraction as described by Karen Barad to explore how we can collaborate across theoretical perspectives (Kaupapa Maori and Critical Disability Studies) and across disciplines (Vocational Rehabilitation and Career Development) to generate new ways that work and career can be understood and addressed that value and acknowledge connected human beings.


Project purpose

The movement toward diverse and inclusive societies in the current age relies on models of work in that recognise and value the connectedness of human beings, but conceptual work addressing this is startlingly absent . Most people consider some sort of work (broadly understood as meaningful engagement with the world, but often considered in terms of paid employment) a significant part of their lives. Currently, models of work and career focus on a conception of human beings as so-called ‘autonomous’ individuals. For example, widespread discussions about the ‘future of work’ take the autonomous individual as given, focusing on how individuals can change and adapt in response to the changing world of work. However, enduring experiences of human beings as connected - existing within a network of shifting connections with other people and the world around them - are common throughout the world, and many people negotiate life, work and career from this perspective. Existing academic work provides ample critique of the dominance of the ‘autonomous  individual’ and its effects, but little attention is paid to the ways in which these (sometimes divergent) perspectives can work together, and how community initiatives can link with this scholarship to contribute to re-conceptualisations. The aims of our study are to work together as scholars who study ‘work’ from divergent perspectives, and to tap into emerging action within communities, using this approach to stimulate novel insights about how work and career could be understood and addressed in ways that acknowledge and value connected human beings.

Further details


Project details

AUT Strategic Research Initiative Fund 2017- 2019 [Rethinking Rehabilitation]

New materialist

Research team:
Jo Fadyl, Lynette Reid, Barbara Gibson, Christine Cummins

Joanna Fadyl

October 2017- October 2021