Kip Jones

KIP JONES, an American by birth, has been studying and working in the UK for more than 19 years.
Under the umbrella term of 'arts-based research', his main efforts have involved developing tools
from the arts and humanities for use by social scientists in research and its impact on a wider
public or a Perfomative Social Science.

Jones is Reader in Performative Social Science and Director of the Centre for Qualitative Research
at Bournemouth University. Kip has produced films and written many articles for academic
journals and authored chapters for books on topics such as masculinity, ageing and rurality,
and older LGBT citizens. His ground-breaking use of qualitative methods, including
biography and auto-ethnography, and the use of tools from the arts in social science research and
dissemination are well-known.

Jones acted as Author and Executive Producer of
the award-winning short film,
RUFUS STONE, funded by Research Councils UK.
The film is now available for
free viewing on the Internet and has been
viewed by more than 13,000 people in 150
countries.

Areas of expertise
• Close relationships, culture and ethnicity
• Social psychology, sociology
• Ageing, self and identity
• Interpersonal processes, personality,
individual differences,
social networks, prejudice and stereotyping
• Sexuality and sexual orientation
• Creativity and the use of the
arts in Social Science

Media experience
His work has been reported widely
in the media, including:
BBC Radio 4,BBC TV news,Times
Higher Education, Sunday New
York Times, International
Herald-Tribune
and The Independent.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Sadie Zimmer

Atlantic City gay scene, 1960s

We are made of our stories. The time we walked out, and never looked back. The time we gave away everything that we owned. And, my oh my, the many risks we took in spite of ourselves.

Like most friends at the time, I met Sadie Zimmer at Philadelphia’s Frank’s Bar. A roly-poly five-foot woman, Sadie was never at a lack for words or eye-catching costumes and ensembles. Rumour had it that she had two small children whom she gave over to her former husband in their divorce settlement. She was fierce and scheming enough to do so, whether it’s true or not.

 

She grew up the child of Jewish parents who ran a shop on Pine Street’s Antique Row, not far from Frank’s Bar, actually.  Eventually she inherited the business. She had a boyfriend (also called Frank), a south Philly Italian guy who didn’t seem to match her at all. He spent a lot of time at the bar wearing dark glasses and drawing.

 

“I have a place at the shore, if you’d like to come down and stay”, she offered me on one occasion. “Atlantic City”.

 

Sounded like it could be fun, so I went. Her “place” was a room in a seedy New York Avenue gay hotel. The room was papered with Frank’s drawings.

 

 In the morning, after spending our evening in one of the NY Ave gay bars, she said, “Let’s hit the beach”. That would be the gay beach, of course. I was beginning to feel like I was on an instructional tour of gay life, or perhaps on trial somehow. She stopped at a liquor store and bought some airline sized bottles of booze. Then in her huge straw hat, carrying a gargantuan beach bag and wearing a psychedelic caftan, she descended the steps to the gay beach with me in tow. Guys on the beach actually stood up and applauded as she came down the stairs.

 

We positioned ourselves not far from the water on a big blanket pulled from the beach bag. The guy selling frozen popsicles from a little white box strapped over his bare chest came along and Sadie went to chat with him. They conversed for a few minutes. She came back to the blanket empty handed, however.

 

“Take your tongue for a sleighride!” the ice cream vendor catcalled to the gay boys on the beach as he trotted along, his desert boots digging into the sand under the weight of his load. The patrons on the beach erupted in stage laughter. This was like a sacred ceremony that happened each time he passed the gay section of the beach selling his wares kept frozen in a container of dry ice. The New York Avenue (very unofficial) gay beach was probably the high point of his day. Either that, or perhaps his daily torture?

 

By the end of the afternoon on the gay beach, I was weary of the obvious cruising, overly loud camp outbursts and behaviour, and generally the whole idea of a ‘gay’ beach.

 

I said to Sadie, “What was that all about with the ice cream dude, anyway? Spill!”

 

“Oh”, she said, “I have some sugar cubes with LSD on them and they need to be kept cold. I asked him to keep a little package for me with the ice cream in his box”.

 

“So he’s been carrying LSD up and down the beach all day?” I asked. “Of course, darling! But he has no idea. I will catch him and then we can leave the beach If you’re ready”.

 

I had had enough of gay Atlantic City and even Sadie’s antics. What I didn’t realise at the time was that she was testing me as a potential lover for Frank.

 

After spending lots of time together as a threesome, then just Frank and I, mostly talking about his drawings, Frank and I spent a night alone. It was like some sort of hippy re-enactment of “Suddenly Last Summer”!  At the time, I finally realised that I was no longer straight marriage material; the wife had left.

 

Frank and I spent my birthday at my apartment. He brought opium-laced hashish which got us so stoned that we didn’t leave the apartment for 24 hours. We made love. Again and again in a drugged haze.

 

Once and for all it was no longer furtive encounters on the streets or in the bars at night for me. I was finally entering into a gay relationship. “Relationship” was a big word with my therapist at the time who was actually the one who suggested that marriage may not be for me.

 

Frank and I would still see Sadie from time to time, but the air was chilly. We were openly a couple at Frank’s bar by then. Perhaps we had gone further than she had expected, after all.

 

What I remember of Sadie most of all, however, was the antics that she would get up to, always carefully aware of her audience. I never will forget the tale that she lifted a piece or two of china or silverware each time that she visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s restaurant—enough until she had a full set for dinner for four.

 

She was a character, but more than that, a great instructor in how to become one. She was a local ‘Auntie Mame’ to us in a new, psychedelic, drug fuelled age.



Read Scene Two for “Copacitica” which takes place in Frank’s Bar.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Performative Social Science Chapter by Kip Jones


Performative Social Science (PSS) is an arts-led method of research and dissemination developed by Jones at Bournemouth University over ten years and is recognized internationally.
Recently lauded by Sage Publications, they described PSS as pioneering work that will ‘propel arts-led research forward’ and be a 'valued resource for students and researchers for years to come’.  --AHRC blog
Performative Social Science is positioned within the current era of cross-pollination from discipline to discipline. Practitioners from the Arts and Humanities look to the Social Sciences for fresh frameworks, whist Social Science practitioners explore the Arts for potential new tools for enquiry and dissemination.  Performative Social Science is defined and the similarities and differences between PSS and Arts-based Research (ABR) are delineated. The history of PSS is then outlined and its development, particularly at the Centre for Qualitative Research at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom, is reviewed. Relational Aesthetics is then described in depth as the theoretical basis and grounding of Performative Social Science. 
Relational Aesthetics (Bourriaud, 2002) offers a theoretical ground for the complexities of connections across seemingly disparate disciplines such as the Arts and Social Sciences and for further exploration of the synergies between both disciplines as well as communities beyond the academy. An example of a large, three-year nationally funded project, culminating with the production of an award-winning short biopic, RUFUS STONE, is outlined as a prime example of a multi-method approach to social science research which includes tools from the arts in its progress and outputs. The entry concludes with goals and aspirations for Performative Social Science in the future.

The International Encyclopedia of Communication Research MethodsJohn Wiley & Sons Inc.

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Saturday, 5 May 2018

Chapters on Performative Social Science by Kip Jones in three international text books

Chapters on Performative Social Science by Kip Jones

in three international text books

Recently lauded by Sage Publications, they described Performative Social Science as pioneering work that will ‘propel arts-led research forward’ and be a 'valued resource for students and researchers for years to come’. 

 Performative Social Science (PSS) is an arts-based method of research and dissemination developed by Jones at Bournemouth University over ten years and is recognized internationally. Relational Aesthetics provides the philosophical bedrock on which PSS has been built.

 Relational ‘Art’ is located in human interactions and their social contexts. Central to it are inter-subjectivity (“the psychological relation between people” or social psychology), being together, the encounter and collective elaboration of meaning (Bourriaud, 1998). These are philosophical principles that are central to PSS as a rich methodological development in qualitative research.

The  Chapters:

  "Emotivity and Ephemera Research" https://www.academia.edu/.../_Emotivity_and_Ephemera...

  Performative Social Science https://www.academia.edu/2212.../Performative_Social_Science

  "Styles of Good Sense” Ethics, Filmmaking and Scholarship https://www.academia.edu/.../_Styles_of_Good_Sense_Ethics...

 

Friday, 9 February 2018

La nostalgie est le voile que nous drapons sur les souvenirs de notre passé.




Clippings from Paris show



I was in Paris for just two weeks to do interviews for some French magazines about the exhibition of my paintings later that Autumn.  The exposition was to be held in an ever-so trendy and chic Marais gallery/bistro. The advance for it must have worked because the interviews were lined up well ahead.

Christo was also in Paris at the same time wrapping the Pont Neuf on the Seine. It was during la rentrée (the two weeks a year when the Parisians are still in a good mood, having just returned from their August vacances).

Kip interviewed on Pont Neuf
I went to see the wrapped bridge. Everyone seemed to be there, and it was quite a public event. Several radio journalists spotted me somehow and interviewed me on the bridge. I had arrived. I just say this to establish what time was like for me then in Paris. Frankly, the fuss made me quite uncomfortable.
Pont Neuf wrapped by Christo








I don’t recall if it was that same visit or on a later one when I crossed the Pont Alma one night to Avenue Marceau. I was on my own and don’t remember where I was headed. In front of me on the corner was 5 Avenue Marceau. It’s where Saint Laurent’s haute couture house stood, where he designed made-to-measure clothes for a clientele composed of the world’s wealthiest and most discerning women.

YSL, 5 Avenue Marceau, Paris
 It was a birthday cake of a building lit up like a Christmas tree. From across the street I could see St. Laurent himself fliting like a firefly from one chandelier-lit salon to the next. There he was, like a character in an elaborate 19th Century dollhouse or puppet proscenium. He was breath-taking to observe, almost unbelievable as an actual live human being. A moment remembered that stays forever because of its power.

I know not what brought me to Pont Alma that evening or what was awaiting me on Avenue Marceau. We used to visit a ritzy hotel’s coffee shop on Avenue Marceau, convinced that it was the best coffee in Paris. We would order a café at the bar, because buying it there it was cheaper, as opposed to sitting at a table or the even perching on the pricier terrace in front of the hotel.  Probably not that night, though. We usually would go there in the morning, not at night. 

Sometimes I would go to one of the Seine’s bridges like the Pont Neuf, Pont Alma or Pont Alexandre III when I was depressed. I always said that Paris was the perfect city in which to be depressed. It is too beautiful to actually get too caught up in despair and so it generally passes quickly. Petit morceaux, like the time I gave a stranger, a young salesclerk whom I admired, a card that I had made for him, and yet he blew me off. You know, tragedy.

Once, when I was moving (yet again) to sleep on someone else’s sofa for a while, two bin bags of possessions in hand, I stopped mid Pont Alexandre III and let my dire situation sink in. Then I thought, “It’s rough, but look where you are; you’re in Paris” and moved on.

One night in the Marais, tiny snowflakes tumbling, like the opening scene of an opera, I spotted someone’s belongings strewn on a walkway. I imagined a huge row and one or the other being expelled from the apartment, possessions to follow, tossed from a Juliet balcony.

I dug through the pile of what I assumed were discarded belongs and found a beautiful white wool rug from Morocco. I rolled it up and took it to the apartment where I was staying. Returning to America later, I left all my clothes behind, and flew back to the USA with the rug in my suitcase instead.

My clothes were still in the apartment in Paris, the last I heard.

Nostalgia is the veil that we drape over the memories of our past.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

RUFUS STONE … the next Generation!


The short film, RUFUS STONE, produced by Bournemouth University, is seven years old this year. The film has been screened widely over this time and seen in schools, universities, international conferences, community organisations, health and social care settings, and online internationally by more than 24,000 viewers in 150 countries.

RUFUS STONE tells the tale of youth and same-sex attraction and what happens when gossip and insensitivity impinge upon young lives, changing them forever.  Our screenings of this story, particularly to youth, have impressed upon us how a supposedly ‘old’ story, (i.e., set in rural Britain more than 50 years ago), still very much has resonance with young people today. Awards presented by the Youth Jury at the Rhode Island Film Festival (2012) as well as presentations to young audiences in the community and academic settings raise the question:

Are youth today still troubled by issues of sexuality and identity in their interface with society?

The “RUFUS STONE … the next Generation” Project will contribute to knowledge on the substantive topic of ‘Post-Millennials’ or ‘Generation Z’ (GenZ). GenZ’s birth years range from the mid-1990s to early 2000s. Comfortable with technology, the cohort has grown up with a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity around the future, and ambivalence around gender and sexual identities. The Project will explore how these attitudes may impact on their mental health. The Project will also investigate the effect of their outlooks on their relationships with each other and their wider communities.

Evidence so far indicates dissidence around sexuality and fluidity of gender roles particularly in Generation Z.
Inspired by a major US survey by the Centre for Disease Control on GenZ’s concepts of gender and sexuality, our interest was further piqued by a major special issue on “The Gender Revolution” in National Geographic (Jan 2017).  “Unimaginable a decade ago, the intensely personal subject of gender identity has entered the public square”. This openness to discussion of sexuality and gender begins to expose this latest generation’s ambivalence, even dissonance, around issues of gender and sexuality. Or are these insecurities similar to those of previous generations, but just more visible as a result of today’s no-holds-barred, but often anonymous, engagement with social media?
It is our belief that this study has the potential to unlock this phenomenon, and, through an interface of Project GenZ’s findings with knowledge of the experiences of past generations, understand more fully individual anxieties and dissonance in regard to sexuality and gender.
Research Questions:
How do Gen Z youth see themselves in relation to the wider, more pervasive heteronormative culture?
How do Gen Z young people perceive differences (or not) in their interface with identity, sexuality and gender than those of previous generations?
The Project will use a multi-method approach to the research, employing a biographic narrative approach to individual life story interviews; the use of arts-led research group work such as film screenings to generate discussion; participant TV studio work; and video diaries, etc. to engage students and elicit personal takes on sexuality and gender issues. Students will be sensitively engaged in reflecting on their own experiences and anxieties around sexual identity through the various tools and methods.
The Project will involve GenZ (‘Post-Millennials’) as both participants in the research and as “co-creators”. Data will be gathered in a congenial and participatory way, conducive with the principles of Performative Social Science and Relational Aesthetics. Performative Social Science (PSS) is an arts-based method of research and dissemination developed by Jones at Bournemouth University over ten years and is recognized internationally. Relational Aesthetics provides the philosophical bedrock on which PSS has been built.  Relational ‘Art’ is located in human interactions and their social contexts. Central to it are inter-subjectivity (“the psychological relation between people” or social psychology), being together, the encounter and collective elaboration of meaning (Bourriaud, 1998). These are philosophical principles that are central to PSS as a rich methodological development in qualitative research. Recently lauded by Sage Publications, they described Jones' Performative Social Science as pioneering work that will ‘propel arts-led research forward’ and be a “valued resource for students and researchers for years to come’.

We are currently applying for funding to work with young people aged 16-18 years and involving them in telling their stories, video recorded on their phones, iPads, etc., then concluding with a series of internet broadcasts co-created by involving them in every stage of production. 
“Skam”, the Norwegian TV series about Oslo teenagers, has influenced our concept and will be used to engage youth in telling their own stories. Set in Oslo, SKAM, (or SHAME in English), is coming-of-age TV drama that follows the lives of a group of teenagers and the challenges that they face throughout high school. The Norwegian series shows a deep understanding of the struggles with self-identity and internalized homophobia that so many LGBTQ+ people go through. This series has touched the hearts of so many people and will certainly withstand the test of time, much the same as RUFUS STONE has done.
From personal correspondence:
It's a project on Generation Z, and their anxieties and ambiguous approaches around gender and sexuality.  We have run one small workshop so far, and the participation was fantastic by the young people. 
Because this is the first generation totally hooked up electronically since birth, I want to work with personal media and social media over several months in sessions with them producing their own film/video about their lives and relationships.  We will then take the stories from that and some of the characters as well into the TV studio at Talbot and make some film.  All this from their input, stories and participation at each phase. Would like to end up with something like the Norwegian series Skam or at least with that look and feeling in the end.  Of course, things could change as we go along and that is okay too.
Gen Z presentation video from Kip Jones on Vimeo.

Read all about the proposed project in the AHRC Blog!



Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Two important Chapters on Performative Social Science now available in text books

Kip Jones, a pioneer in Performative Social Science at Bournemouth University (BU), has two substantial book Chapters now available in texts published by Wiley-Blackwell and Palgrave Macmillan. Both texts move the practice of arts-led research forward substantially and will become valued resources for students and researchers for years to come.


The first Chapter, “Performative Social Science”, in J. P. Matthes, C. S. Davis, & R. F. Potter (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods, rehearses the development of Performative Social Science (PSS) as a research approach and method, developed over ten years at Bournemouth University through publication, film, research, workshops, Masterclasses, and PhD studies. Jones explains that PSS is not simply ‘art for art’s sake’ instead of research. PSS is research and dissemination practices based in the philosophy of Relational Aesthetics and has much in common with Social Constructionism. The ‘audience’ or reader/viewer are key to PSS, as is the wider community.

This 3-volume Encyclopedia is touted as the most current authoritative single-source reference on communication methods. The editors state that they have invited the best scholars from all over the world to accomplish this. Jones’ Chapter (draft) is now available at: https://www.academia.edu/22126458/Performative_Social_Science

The second Chapter, “Emotivity and Ephemera Research”, in Innovative Research Methodologies in Management: Volume I, edited by L. Moutinho and M. Sokelem provides an in-depth worked example of PSS. The Chapter reports on a two-day experimental workshop in arts-led interviewing technique using ephemera to illicit life stories and then reporting narrative accounts back using creative means of presentation. The workshop took place at Bournemouth and participants were all University faculty members. A key to the process was in replicating what research participants may be feeling and going through when they share very personal stories with researchers. The exercise built a respect for this process by acknowledging that fact through the personal experiences and emotive connectivity of workshop participants.

The Editors of this book on management were keen to include the Chapter, stating that many who are attempting a PhD, particularly using a qualitative approach, spend little or no effort in finding, then learning, an appropriate method for their research question. The felt that the Chapter would contribute substantially in this way to management studies. The Chapter was originally published as “A report on an arts-led, emotive experiment in interviewing and storytelling” in  The Qualitative Report, 20(2), 86-92 and is available here: https://www.academia.edu/10835482/A_Report_on_an_Arts-Led_Emotive_Experiment_in_Interviewing_and_Storytelling

It is examples like these that substantiate the work being done not only by Jones, but by other members of the Centre for Qualitative Research (CQR) at Bournemouth University. Membership of CQR comes from across Health and Social Sciences’ disciplines at BU as well as from a number of other BU faculties, This attraction attests to the universal appeal of qualitative methods and particularly arts-led ones, including Performative Social Science, which are being developed through CQR.

________________________________________________

Saturday, 9 December 2017

“Some thoughts on Kindness for Christmas”

Human Kindness Overflowing
Lonely, lonely.
Tin can at my feet,
I think I'll kick it down the street.
That's the way to treat a friend.
Bright before me the signs implore me:
Help the needy and show them the way.
Human kindness is overflowing,
And I think it's gonna rain today.
--Randy Newman
  
Some at my University have recently been promoting activities around "Kindness". I am not sure exactly what sort of Kindness they mean. I almost fear investigating, only to find it's about 'being kind to ourselves' (because nobody else will?) and other panaceas for quick fix armchair therapy. I could be wrong about it, and maybe I should explore it, for the following reason.

I hope that “Kindness” is about first how we treat each other in our own environments, not just in some speculative and imagined external space and in interactions with people we've never met ("Bright before me the signs implore me ..."). Yes, there are kind ways to go about that, but let's get back to the crux of the problem, at least as I see it, anyway. Can we heal ourselves?
Former Mary Seacole Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester

When I first came from America to England (now almost 20 years ago) I settled into my then University's lovely former Bishop's property transformed into one of the Schools.  There were walkways through flowerbeds, past a former stable, the mansion, and then a duck pond. Gardeners came often to keep it all in trim.

I remember remarking to another foreign import, a Canadian Admin, "Why do the people walk around (and pass you) looking down at the ground all the time?" I eventually realised this was so that they wouldn't catch the eye of a stranger and have to interact, even just say to 'hello' or 'good morning!’ I found this quite depressing. Being the lone postgrad student on the site, and having given up family and friends in America to come to England to do a PhD, I was starved for human interaction of some sort. I guess it was all just cultural shock, but maybe not. It certainly was depressing.

I now work in a faculty at another University where we are all very much isolated in three or four different buildings and then on many different floors in each building. It is quite easy never to cross paths with many colleagues, even those with whom we work directly, unless we make an effort. For years, faculty begged for what is called a 'common room' for the faculty, a place to meet up by chance, converse, and have a cuppa. “Serendipity”, they wanted to call it. It never happened. Vending machines were installed on a floor of one building instead. We’ve tried using the coffee shops in the undergraduate buildings, but they are usually packed with students (as they should be) and very noisy.  Finally, a commercial coffee shop opened near-by, and it seems to have become the meeting place for faculty confabs now. It has made a major difference.

Nonetheless, I guess I am still just a Yank after all. I still find it really depressing when my colleagues cannot take the time to say hello or good-morning, particularly when they work in close proximity to me or pass me at the copier. I suppose that some think that they are just too busy (or too important) to indulge in such nonsense as "Kindness”. You might say, “If I say hello to everyone I pass, I will never get my job done”. Ah, yes. Your critical role. But what about your supportive one?

When I lived in Paris for some time, I was amazed at a practice there. If the streets were crowded with pedestrians everyone walked on. When you walked alone on a street, however, and a stranger approached from the opposite direction (‘en face’), you both would say, ‘bonjour’ or hello. Civilisation.

The UK has imported several American cultural practices (the ‘away day’, open offices, even Hallowe’en), but perhaps it’s just beyond the pale to expect Brits to start expounding, "Have a nice day!".

Nonetheless, maybe we could start with just “Hello” and see what happens?


Human kindness is overflowing.
And I think it's gonna rain today.

Friday, 4 August 2017

‘I’m her partner, let me in!”



Draft for Sage’s Methodspace, week of 21 August 2017 https://www.methodspace.com/

My colleague at Bournemouth University, Lee-Ann Fenge, and I have collaborated on many qualitative projects over the years, several specifically arts-led, and have then contributed articles to academic journals about these endeavours. We are particularly attracted to the natural story-telling element of qualitative research or a “narrative approach”, and report on it often. Narrative methods contribute greatly to the advances made in qualitative research. In a recent article in Creative Approaches to Research, we suggest that a narrative style can also be promoted by the way that we present our data in academic journal publications.

A study on older LGBT citizens in rural Britain funded by Research Councils UK (Fenge, Jones & Read 2011) is highlighted by means of a report on one part of that study—a focus group, which provided an opportunity for participants to share a common history and identify individual experiences. The journal article reflecting this published in Creative Approaches to Research is entitled, “Gifted Stories: How well do we retell the stories that research participants give us?” (Jones & Fenge 2017)

In the process of reporting about this particular focus group we reached a specific frustration. Although Lee-Ann and I have produced several innovative outputs in disseminating our research (film, poetry, drama, and so forth), we still are often compelled to produce the more traditional academic journal article as well. We passionately now believe, however, that as narrative researchers and storytellers we should be promoting narrative in the content and styles of our publications too.

When we revert to a style of publication that is counter to this, we do a disservice to our commitments as narrativists. We can no longer afford to ignore the great advances made in representation of qualitative data. These have been overwhelmingly demonstrated by the successes achieved in auto-ethnography, poetic enquiry, ethno drama, film, Performative Social Science (Jones 2017) and/or other arts-based efforts in research and dissemination (Leavy 2015).

Our frustration on this occasion, therefore, led us to try something new.
Suddenly, we thought, “Perhaps we can put aside a reporting system and a language that is imitative of quantitative reporting, strip off the lab coats of clichéd rigor and pseudo-analyses, and finally take up a unique language and style of publication that we can truly claim as our own”. We propose that the inspiration for this language and style is frequently found in the arts and humanities (Jones 2012)

Lee-Ann and I produced a paper, therefore, that demonstrates two possible ways of writing up focus group material for publication. We began by reporting on the findings from the focus group transcript in the fashion that has by now become routine in qualitative interview reports, i.e., breaking up the responses into categorised data chunks. We extracted quotations from the initial conversations and then reorganised them in a very familiar way. We sorted responses by grouping them together with others that fit into similar niches.  For those with a fondness for order, this is often justified as taking “messy” data and making it “neat”; in short, “data management”. We gave them our own particular interpretive “spin” by delineating a “category” for each grouping, often reformatting them within our own interpretive “bracketing”.

This is where our frustration took over. We asked ourselves, “How did this come about? Isn’t it time to shift our approach and report these experiences in a different way? Was this not a story of the interactions of strangers and a growing social group cohesion that was taking place on this very day by means of this research exercise? Where is that story?” Where are the storytellers’ “stories”?  How did they unfold on this particular occasion?  Are we missing the point that the real “interpretation”, the “action” if you will, was the interactions between the narrators themselves within the storytelling setting?

We then thought, “Let’s try something else, something perhaps even somewhat daring. We will present a large extract from the focus group transcript verbatim and at length, including nuances such as breaks, demonstrating how one person’s thoughts follows another’s, and the energy created when several people talk at once.We did this without comment or interruption, in part to bring the reader closer to the group experience itself. By doing this, we hoped to give the reader a sense of how the gathered participants interacted with one another and the researcher and began to coalesce by forming a new group dynamic through the very focus group process itself. This also allows the reader to engage more directly with the participants’ stories and begin to make interpretations of her/his own—also becoming a participant in the dialogic. By honouring the (tran)script in its fullness, we reaffirm our positions as narrativists, dramaturgists and authors, as well as acknowledging potential readers as active audience members.
As narrative researchers, we are natural storytellers and need to keep this in the foreground when reporting studies, particularly in publications. As enlightened qualitative researchers, we must insist that qualitative research is always about story reporting and story making, and that narrative research (listening to and retelling stories) is a key democratising factor in social science research. Not only what research participants say, but also how they say it—both are equally important to report.
Adopting a narrative rather than an empirical mode of inquiry allows investigators to get closer to the phenomena studied in several ways.  First, the narrative provides access to the specific rather than the abstract; secondly, narratives allow experience to unfold in a temporal way; thirdly, everyday language and its nuances are encouraged; finally, narrative permits dynamics to reveal themselves in the actions and relationships presented.

 

We strain to hear the story, almost whispered.  We strain because, as human beings we love stories, particularly when they are told to us …or narrated.  There is a magical quality in listening to a story.  We listen because we want to know how a life can be different from our own, or how it can be exactly the same.  Stories compel us to compare. (Jones 2010)

“Gifted Stories …” is available here and here.

References

Fenge, L., Jones, K., and Read, R.  (2011) “Connecting participatory methods in a study of older lesbian and gay citizens in rural areas”. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. Available at: http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/IJQM/article/view/8652

Jones, K. (2010) “Strengths of Narrative Research”. Unpublished script for Narrative Research podcast, Bournemouth University.

Jones, K. (2012) “Connecting Research with Communities through Performative Social Science”. The Qualitative Report, 17(Rev. 18), 1-8. Available at: http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol17/iss41/3/

Jones, K. (2017) “Performative Social Science”. Ch. in: The International Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods, J. Matthes, Ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/22126458/Performative_Social_Science

Jones, K., Fenge, L.-A. (2017) “Gifted Stories: How well do we retell the stories that research participants give us?” Creative Approaches to Research. Vol. 10, No. 1: 33-49. Available at: http://creativeapproachestoresearch.net/wp-content/uploads/CAR10_1_Jones_Fenge.pdf

Leavy, P. (2015). Method Meets Art Arts-Based Research Practice (Second Edition). New York: Guilford Press.