In this paper, we present a project of the University of Kent Graduate School that utilises this paradox of playfulness and creativity. LEGO® is used in workshops to explore doctoral students’ emotions around the complex and solitary experience of a PhD research. We argue LEGO® is uniquely generative for exploring emotion work. After a brief overview of the background and context to the doctoral training workshop, we provide a brief review of emotion work. We then describe the LEGO® workshop we developed for our students, before explaining our approach to data collection and analysis. We then present our results, using verbatim statements from conversations with students around their LEGO® models. We present the interconnected building elements of height, walls and positioning, which are particularly impactful in highlighting the emotion work with LEGO® models. We connect the findings to a brief discussion in relation to the literature around emotion work. We have found that LEGO®’ bricks structure, solidity, and variety ensure its openness to metaphorical investment and promote the creation of narratives. Thus, building LEGO® models enabled participants to engage creatively with routinization of practices and emotion work, as well their positive support networks. We conclude with final thoughts on the value of LEGO® and steps for further developing the existing workshop.
Brown, N. & Collins, J. (2018). Using LEGO® to understand emotion work in doctoral education. International Journal of Management and Applied Research, 5(4), 193-209. DOI: 10.18646/2056.54.18-014.