Pauliina_Jääskeläinen by Ville_Rinne web.jpg
Pauliina Jääskeläinen. Photo: Ville Rinne

Dissertation: The reversibility of body movements helps to understand organisational relations


In her dissertation, M.Sc/Admin. Pauliina Jääskeläinen theorises the organisational relations through the reversibility of body movements. According to her research, Maurice Merleau-Ponty's concept of reversibility together with dance movement therapy’s theoretical and practical understanding bring a fresh perspective on researching organisational relations.

Reversibility covers multiple layers in the research: It is a worldview, research methodology, theory and practical method of developing organisations.

– When we understand our body movements through reversibility, we become aware of our movements’ connections to our emotions, thinking habits and sensations. From the point of view of relating, reversibility means that we are in constant, non-verbal and mostly unconscious interplay with other bodies through our bodily movements, Jääskeläinen describes.

– Even before we become consciously aware, our body reacts to the movements of others. The visible movements of others evoke an immediate bodily response in us, hence, the movement of emotions and inner sensations. And the other way around: Our body movements express emotions and our personal ways of relating to different situations.

As a research methodology, Jääskeläinen views the reversibility of body movements through the concept of “Reach-searching” she developed during her research. This concept proposes that the researcher is above all a moving body in relation to their research phenomenon.

– The researcher is therefore part of their research, a reversible side of it in the sense that they affect their research through their “reach-searching” movements, choices and actions meanwhile the subject of study, the research environment, colleagues and other tangible and intangible things affect the researcher through their movements.

According to Jääskeläinen, the result of the product of the research – in this case, the dissertation – becomes as it is in the joint, reciprocal and coincidental movement of these elements.

Jääskeläinen’s research challenges still prevailing understanding of research as something outside of the researcher, based only on rationalisation or measuring. Wondering the relations between the researcher and the research subject through the reversibility of body movements gives therefore possibilities to view the embodiment in organisational relations from the point of view of coincidental reciprocity and entanglement.

Body awareness helps to evoke a sense of responsibility for others and communities

Jääskeläinen proposes that understanding how each body has unique movement patterns, helps us perceive and respect our fundamental differences above any identity groups. While guiding embodied facilitation and leadership facilitations in health care and social services organisations, Jääskeläinen noticed these fundamental differences for example in how differently people reacted to this kind of facilitation. The embodied methods helped also participants to recognise their unique ways of relating to their bodies, work relations and leadership.

– From the point of view of work communities, taking the knowledge which is produced through body movements into account gives possibilities to understand the functions of organisations and broader societies as personal, experiential and produced through reciprocal body movements.

Perceiving body movements and increasing body awareness become important when we want to learn about organisations and other societal communities, our unique ways of relating in organisations or when we want to question and develop the prevailing structures and ways of doing things. The reversibility of body movements might, in the best scenario, evoke also the responsibility for one’s body movements even if they weren’t conscious.

– At the same time, it helps us to understand – on a concrete, embodied level – how societal phenomena move and mould our ways of moving, acting, participating, thinking and feeling, Jääskeläinen says.

Information on the public examination

Pauliina Jääskeläinen’s dissertation The reversibility of body movements in reach-searching organisational relations will be publicly examined by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Lapland on the 1st of December 2023 at 12 pm in Auditorium B127.

The opponent is professor Mar Pérezts, Emlyon Business School. The custos is professor Susan Meriläinen, University of Lapland.

The public defence will take place online at:

Information on the doctoral candidate

Pauliina Jääskeläinen graduated from Oulu Conservatory in 2001 and worked as a full-time dance teacher after that for several years. Between the years 2011 and 2017, she studied Psychology of Leadership at the University of Lapland and dance movement therapy at Uniarts. Jääskeläinen became a dance movement therapist in 2016 and a master of social sciences (admin./Psychology of leadership) in 2017.

Jääskeläinen did her doctoral studies in the Communities and Changing World doctoral programme at the University of Lapland. She was granted by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Lapland Regional fund with one year grant. She also worked in the position of a doctoral researcher at the Graduate School at the University of Lapland. To finalise the work, Jääskeläinen was awarded the Esko Riepula grant by the University of Lapland.

At the moment, Pauliina Jääskeläinen works at the University of Lapland, in the Faculty of Social Sciences in the AECED (Transforming Education for Democracy through Aesthetic and Embodied Learning, Responsive Pedagogies and Democracy-as-becoming) project, which is funded by Horizon Europe. The research in the project focuses on aesthetic and embodied methods in transforming education for democracy.

Further information

Pauliina Jääskeläinen, pauliina.jaaskelainen(at), tel. +358 40 592 4617

Information on the publication

Pauliina Jääskeläinen: The Reversibility of Body Movements in Reach-searching Organisational Relations. Acta electronica Universitatis Lapponiensis 366, ISBN 978-952-337-396-9, ISSN 1796-6310 University of Lapland 2023, Rovaniemi.

The permanent address of the electronic publication: