Amid parts and wholes: A dialectic approach to understanding the value of music for health
As a music therapist, educator and researcher, I am concerned with both parts and wholes. Whether I am working on a randomized controlled trial or a phenomenological study, I aim to understand how the detailed parts relate to the whole—how individual data points inform a group outcome, how one person’s individual experience of health is negotiated in relation to the systems within which that person exists, and how knowledge generated and privileged by some kinds of research impacts and comprises larger systems. A dialectic understanding recognizes that parts and wholes are not separate entities, but instead constitute each other. Social scientist David Harvey articulates this co-constitution as his 6th proposition of the principles of dialectics, grounded in the practices of Karl Marx. Through examples taken from my research and practical work, I explore how dialectics can be used to understand the value of music as a health-promoting force in various challenging life situations. Further, I problematize research methods and methodologies as being implicated in the false dichotomization of parts and wholes, and argue that such dichotomization can obscure our understandings of how musicking constitutes health.
- How do parts and wholes constitute each other within the concepts of music, and of health?
- How does research methodology limit or enable our ability to perceive parts and wholes?
Harvey, D. (2004). The principles of dialectics. In W. Carroll (Ed), Critical strategies for social research (pp.125 - 132). Canadian Scholars Press.
Claire Ghetti is Associate Professor of Music Therapy at The Grieg Academy - Department of Music, University of Bergen; and Assistant Leader of the Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre (GAMUT), NORCE Norwegian Research Centre. Claire’s research centers on how music and the relationships that are enabled through musicking serve as resources that help buffer against traumatization in intensive medical contexts. She is currently principal investigator of the multinational randomized controlled trial LongSTEP evaluating the impact of music therapy on preterm infants and their caregivers (Research Council of Norway, RCN 273534). Claire has published research and theoretical work in the area of music therapy as procedural support for invasive medical procedures, music therapy for hospitalized children at risk for traumatization and music therapy as emotional-approach coping to improve peri-procedural outcomes. Additional research interests include research methodology, theory development and music therapy for people with substance use problems. Claire is co-editor-in-chief of the open access, social justice-oriented online journal, Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy.