Kip Jones

KIP JONES, an American by birth, has been studying and working in the UK for more than 15 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 11,000 people in 150
countries over the past year alone.

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
and The Independent.

Monday, 27 April 2009

2 Professors Rock Out Online to Study Fame — and Us

Most people who stumble across the YouTube video of the self-proclaimed rock star Gory Bateson singing to a scantily clad prostitute in Amsterdam's red-light district probably have no idea that the work is part of a research project — or that the man holding the guitar is a tenured professor. The video has attracted more than 12,000 views and won a few online fans. But it has upset some of the professor's colleagues, who say that whatever this two-minute clip is, it is definitely not academic work.

Read the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education at:

Saturday, 25 April 2009

America: an intellectual Las Vegas?

The following is my response to a memo written by expert in auto-ethnography, Carolyn Ellis, responding to the US National Science Foundation report "Workshop on Interdisciplinary Standards for Systematic Qualitative Research."

Dear Carolyn

I have just read your response to the NSF through the newsgroups.

Your message certainly calls attention to the diversity and depth of qualitative research. In doing so, however, you have missed or excluded the work being done in Europe (for example, FQS, the trilingual, international, open access journal for qualitative research) and tend to conceive of 'international' events and resources in a North American-centric way. The only exception seems to be a mention of a journal out of Cardiff (perhaps because they have been loudest in their criticism of some 'American' qualitative work?).

You have not mentioned our work here at Bournemouth and the Centre for Qualitative Research, our pioneering efforts in novel and innovative research methods, humanising health and social care, and Performative Social Science (Performative Social Science moves well beyond the 'performance ethnography' that you do mention, by the way). Your message also leaves out the biennial qualitative research conference that we organise, attracting participants from dozens of countries every two years (and organised with quality, rather than simply quantity, in mind). In addition, we are well known for the four to six masterclasses held annually at Bournemouth with internationally recognised qualitative experts in a diverse range of qualitative methods (you were one of them a while back!) .

There are many other universities, centres and qualitative groups throughout Europe making important contributions to qualitative research and methodological innovation. (International resources) I will not rehearse that list here, except to say that it is often to Europe that many American qualitative researchers look when seeking a philosophical foundation to their qualitative efforts. In addition, qualitative work from Australia, South America, the sub-continent and other global locations cannot be ignored. By doing so, American scholars run the risk of creating an 'intellectual Las Vegas', --inward-looking and micro centric.

As an American, I can understand how easily we can fall into the trap that what is American is global and that we do not have to look beyond our shores for answers (examples from sociology of the immigrant to America turning her/his back on Europe abound). I would hope that recent movements, however, are beginning to change that pervasive cultural flaw. The current economic crisis (and any potential solutions to it) seems to point to the fact that we need to think globally if we are to dig our way out of it.

Please remember your 'cousins' over here; we may actually be able to contribute to the battle raging there!

My best to you and Art,


Carolyn's message:
April 23, 2009

Memo to:
Michele Lamont and Patricia White, authors of report on “Workshop on Interdisciplinary Standards for Systematic Qualitative Research”

The International Community of Qualitative Scholars

Norman Denzin, Distinguished Professor of Communications, College of Communications Scholar, and Research Professor of Communications, Sociology, and Humanities at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Yvonna Lincoln, Ruth Harrington Chair of Educational Leadership, and Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at Texas A&M University

Arthur Bochner, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Communication, University of South Florida, Immediate Past President of National Communication Association

Carolyn Ellis, Professor of Communication and Sociology, Co-Director of the Institute for Interpretive Studies, University of South Florida

NSF's 2009 report entitled "Workshop on Interdisciplinary Standards for Systematic Qualitative Research."

We write to respond to NSF's 2009 report entitled "Workshop on Interdisciplinary Standards for Systematic Qualitative Research." We welcome the recent attention given by NSF to interdisciplinary standards for systematic qualitative research in the social sciences (Lamont and White, 2009; Becker 2009). NSF's statement recognizes the central place of qualitative research in the academy today, while noting considerable variability in the emphasis on constructivist versus positivist epistemologies.

Missing from the lengthy report, however, is acknowledgement of the critical and interpretive qualitative work being done in and supported by the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (qi2009. org), the number of journals now publishing this work (Atkinson and Delamont, 2006), the number of disciplines involved (St. Pierre and Roulston, 2006; American Education Research Association, 2006, 2008), and the many different paradigms, methods, and approaches being widely applied within the broader field of qualitative inquiry.

In seeking interdisciplinary (cultural anthropology, law and social science, political science, sociology) standards for qualitative research, the NSF workshop: (1) narrowly and traditionally defines qualitative research (QR)/methods as a set of data gathering tools, to be used alone or in tandem with quantitative data techniques; (2) narrowly frames QR to only include interviews, archival research, and ethnography; (3) seeks common themes and standards between QR and quantitative methods, such as: (a) an emphasis on rigor, (b) operationalizing key constructs, (c) testing hypotheses, (d) thorough data analysis, (e) sampling techniques, (f) small samples can yield big results, still be scientific, even if not random, and offer generalization.

The focus on common criteria: rigor, design, sampling, and generalizing, reads QR through an exclusively quantitative, logical empiricist model of inquiry. There is no consideration of the new interpretive qualitative inquiry methodologies: autoethnography, performance ethnography, active and interactive interviews, critical ethnography, mixed methodologies, narrative, discourse methods, decolonizing methodologies, disability issues, feminist qualitative research, ethics, IRBs and academic freedom, indigenous epistemologies, indigenous ethics, grounded theory and social justice methodologies, participatory action research, collaborative inquiry, the politics of evidence, postcolonial methodologies, qualitative case studies, queering the interview, writing as a method of inquiry, or varieties of validity.

This discourse contests and debates terms like operationalize, test, sample, generalize, and data analysis. Regrettably, in confining the document to these four disciplines, the report failed to consider the efforts by committees within the American Education Research Association to formalize evaluative criteria for qualitative research, including arts-based methodologies (AERA 2006, 2008). This discourse is situated within the global conversation regarding evidence-based research, and the challenges it raises for qualitative researchers. Indeed the report seems to stand outside time, ignoring the demands the global audit culture places on social science inquiry.

The report calls for: (1) partnerships with professional associations, (2) summer institutes focused on qualitative methodology (i.e. IQRM--Institute for Qualitative Methods--the qualitative equivalent of ICPSR--Interuniversity for Political and Social Research), (3) workshops for teachers of qualitative methods. Thankfully, two such institutes now exist: the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology at the University of Calgary (twelve years old), and The Center for Qualitative Inquiry and the International Institute for Qualitative Inquiry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, which is the independent non-profit that oversees the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (six years old). In addition, a global network of interconnected Qualitative Inquiry Collaborating Sites connects programs and scholars in 65 nations. In May 2009, the Fifth International Congress will be held. As has been typical each year, the 2009 program has attracted 225 panel and 1500 paper submissions from 40 disciplines and 70 nations. Additionally, there were 70 submissions for the Illinois Distinguished Dissertation Competition, which features critical and interpretive ethnographic work

We urge NSF to take into account the work being done by interpretive and critical ethnographers in all disciplines, including Communication Studies and Education among others, and to include on their review panels and in their workshops distinguished scholars working within these approaches who can effectively represent this body of qualitative researchers in further deliberations about qualitative research.


American Education Research Association. 2006. Standards for Reporting on Empirical Social Science Research in AERA publications. Available at

American Education Research Association. 2008. Standards for Reporting on Humanities-Oriented Research in AERA publications. Available at Standards_April 30.pdf.

Atkinson, Paul and Sara Delamont. 2006. "In the Roiling Smoke: Qualitative Inquiry and Contested Fields." International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 19, 6 (November-December): 747-755

Becker, Howard S. 2009. "How to Find Out how to do Qualitative Research." (circulated electronic document, April 2009).

Lamont, Michelle and Patricia White. 2009. Workshop on Interdisciplinary Standards for Systematic Qualitative Research (Washington: National Science Foundation), available at

St. Pierre, Elizabeth A. and Kathryn Roulston. 2006. "The State of Qualitative Inquiry: A Contested Science." International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 19, 6 (November-December): 673-684.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Multiplatform Immersive Theatre Experience

A short documentary about Last Will, a prototype MITE* produced by Hide and Seek, Punchdrunk, Seeper and HP Labs.
Last Will from Hide and Seek on Vimeo.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

How to Find Out How to Do Qualitative Research by Howard S. Becker

[In March, 2009, the National Science Foundation issued a report on a conference about qualitative methods (Lamont and White, 2009). This report followed an earlier report on an earlier conference (Ragin, Nagel, and White, 2004). The two reports differed in important ways and, since documents bearing the imprimatur of the Foundation may seem to have some kind of official status, and might be passed around as presenting an authoritative statement on the matter, I thought it worthwhile to prepare a sort of counter-document, indicating what I think are the shortcomings of the 2009 report, and questioning its implicit claim to authoritative status.]

“Quit whining and learn to do real science by stating theoretically derived, testable hypotheses, with methods of data gathering and analysis specified before entering the field. Then you’ll get NSF grants like the real scientists do.” Howard Becker's summation of the NSF foundation report on qualitative research.

See Becker's article, a worthwhile read.

Listen to Becker playing piano on 'Little Tin Box'.
It may cheer you up after reading the article!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Contextualising the use of the arts in social science

Aesthetics as much as economics guides the interpretation of social life’ (Smith 1997: 502)
It is a historical fact that the major upheavals and transformations in Western art and science occurred during periods of cross-pollination from discipline to discipline (The Enlightenment of science and reason, truth and beauty, for example, or the Paris of the beginning of the 20th Century in art, music, literature, dance and design). Forward-looking arts and humanities academics are currently directly involved in such cross-disciplinary communication with contemporary practitioners from other disciplines. Some have, however, reached an impasse when re-exploring historical concepts such as the death of the author (Barthes, 1967) in literary criticism and the utility of silence (Sontag, 1967) in fiction. These conundrums, when complicated by contemporary questions in art criticism such as the direct involvement of audience in producing relationships with the world through signs, forms, actions and objects (Bourriaud, 2002) contribute to this contemporary unease. All of these questions challenge the traditional means of production and diffusion in both the arts and humanities and their scholarship.

From a different viewpoint, questions of ethics and questions of evaluation have begun to convince social scientists to look beyond their own philosophical groundings to aesthetics for solutions (Jones, 2006). They have found that text is often only linear and, therefore, temporal; in text the meaning must be precise or risk disbelief. Narrated stories turned into written text (the vast majority of the outputs of the academic interview culture) now require a fresh approach. The constructed memories that are the building blocks of narrated lives, like dreams, are simultaneous layers of past and present—the visual and the spatial—and these added dimensions, beyond the purely temporal, now demand attention.

At the same time, practitioners in the arts and humanities are looking for a framework within which to base their more scholarly pursuits and are turning to the social scientist for possible solutions or methods and philosophies. There is a pervasive longing amongst arts and humanities practitioners (photographers and filmmakers, choreographers, poets, composers, creators of new media, etc.) to connect somehow in a relational way to a science of social beings who inhabit space, place and time, and to establish scholarly grounding for these explorations. A recent seminar at The Sixth Annual Conference of the Graduate School of Arts and Humanities, University of Glasgow (Oct 2007), for example, asked the following questions:

Can art change the world? Can the Arts and Humanities produce radical new knowledge? How can the effects of material and ideological change be traced? How do traditional research fields or areas approach changes in research theory and methodology? Can interdisciplinary methods in research better record innovation and change?
What is learned when art talks to social science, social science responds to art? A not so quiet revolution is currently taking place in the application of research in the social sciences. The use of tools from the arts and humanities, in both investigation of concerns and dissemination of data, is gaining critical mass (Jones, 2006; Gergen & Jones 2008). Photography, music, dance, poetry, video installations, dramatic monologues and theatrical performances have recently been added to the researcher's investigative toolbox, calling itself, “Performative Social Science” (PSS). For example, a series of five workshops, “Social Science in Search of its Muse: Exploratory Workshops in Arts-related Production and Dissemination of Social Science Data”, took place at Bournemouth University (BU) from November, 2006 through June, 2007, supported by the, the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and funded under its Nature of Creativity Scheme. These efforts were put forward in order to indicate means with which social scientists could benefit by identifying areas of possible collaboration with each other as well as with practitioners from the arts. Participants were able to return from these encounters across disciplines to more traditional outlets of dissemination with renewed possibilities for creative and innovative exploration of knowledge production and diffusion.

At the end of the initial four workshops, a short film was proposed which would act as a record of the events as well as an audio/visual evaluation tool. The film (“Social Science finding its muse”) was premiered at Qualitative research and arts practice: The potential for research capacity building, ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, University of Wales—Cardiff, September, 2007. It has been shown to colleagues at BU many times, a visiting group of scholars from Sweden and elsewhere, and was invited for presentation at Bristol University’s Postgraduate School of Education as an exemplar of ‘Facilitated Learning’. It was also entered into the Learning on Screen Awards 2008 competition. The film has been available on the Internet since September, 2007 and has had more than 2000 viewings at this writing.

In addition, a recent Special Issue on Performative Social Science in the online, qualitative journal, Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Jones et al May, 2008) provides a wide range of examples and manifestations of PSS, with contributions from various disciplines/subject areas, and realized through a wide variety of approaches to qualitative research practice. It contains over 100 photographs and almost 50 illustrations, as well as 36 videos and two audio-recordings. Forty-two articles were produced by contributors from 13 countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America) and written in three languages.

What "performative" refers and relates to in these contributions and elsewhere is the communicative powers of research and the natural involvement of an "audience", whether that be a group of peers or a group of students, a physical audience or a cyber audience, even a solitary reader of a journal or a book. This is good news, not only for participants in research studies, who can often be involved in producing subsequent performative outputs, but also for the larger community to whom these findings should be directed.

Relational Aesthetics offers a theoretical grounding to the complexities of collaboration across seemingly disparate disciplines such as the arts and social sciences and further exploration of the synergies between them. Nicolas Bourriaud’s (2002) Relational Aesthetics is suggested as a starting point because he offers a post-modern, contemporary framework that allows academics to think about aesthetics and the use of platforms from the arts across disciplines in refreshing ways. Relational Art is located in human interactions and their social contexts. Central to it are inter-subjectivity, being-together, the encounter and the collective elaboration of meaning, based in models of sociability, meetings, events, collaborations, games, festivals and places of conviviality. By using the word ‘conviviality’, the emphasis is placed on commonality, equal status and relationship (Hewitt & Jordon 2004: 1). Relational Aesthetics or ‘socializing art’ often comprises elements of interactivity, but its most noticeable characteristic is its socializing effect. Through such efforts, it aims to bring people together and to increase understanding (Johannson 2000: 2). In fact, Bourriaud believes that art is made of the same material as social exchanges. If social exchanges are the same as art, how can we portray them?

Performative Social Science challenges the traditional binary between research and (re)presentation, that is, between acts of observing or ‘gathering data’ and subsequent reports on this process (Gergen & Gergen 2003: 4). Text is often only linear and, therefore, temporal; in text the meaning must be precise or risk disbelief. Conversely, ‘working visually involves a significant shift away from the often oddly lifeless and mechanical accounts of everyday life in textual representation, towards … engagements that are contextual, kinaesthetic and sensual: that live’ (Halford & Knowles 2005: 1), reflecting, perhaps, what Denzin forecasts as ‘the cinematic-interview society’ (Denzin 2001: 23).

Asking a person to tell us about her/his life through photographs (as one example) might be just a beginning. By doing this, in a less than perfect way, we are at least starting by participating in the storytelling of the person in her/his world, her/his expectations, successes, failures and dreams. In the end, the final product of any compilation of interactive visual images (and, as importantly, the process of creating it), certainly reflects Bourriaud’s call for relational art (and, therefore, “performative” diffusion of biographic production) that is about inter-subjectivity, the encounter and the collective elaboration of meaning, reflecting the material of social exchanges within a spirit of conviviality and play.

What does such an effort contribute to traditional academic values? ‘This will be uncomfortable. Novelty is always uncomfortable. We shall need to alter academic habits and develop sensibilities appropriate to a methodological dencentring’ (Law & Urry 2004: 404). What needs to be recognized and acknowledged, then, is that, beyond the text of traditional research material and its promise of personal revelation, the territory of a physical intimacy that is shared by the researcher and the researched remains situated. Recoiling from this shared intimacy negates the potential for the cathartic, audience-like experience and the possibilities of a truly reflective knowing of other human beings. Embracing—a good word for it, too—the physicality of these potential relationships unlocks possibilities for deeper understanding and further opening up of relationships.


Barthes, R. (1967) “Death of the Author Aspen Magazine, 5-6.
Bourriaud, N. (2002; English version) Relational Aesthetics. Dijon, France: Les Presses du Reel.
Denzin, Norman K. (2001) The reflexive interview and a performative social science. Qualitative Research 1(1): 23-46.
Gergen, M., Jones, K. (2008) Editorial: A Conversation about Performative Social Science. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(2), Art. 43.
Hewitt & Jordan (2004) Talking up the social.
Press Corps 2004 Liverpool Biennial.
Johannson, T. D. (2000) Visualising Realations Superflex’ Relational Art in the Cyberspace Geography. Paper for the Asia Europe Forum 2000, Kyongiu, South Korea, October 23025, 2000.
Jones, K. (2006) “A Biographic Researcher in Pursuit of an Aesthetic: The use of arts-based (re)presentations in “performative” dissemination of life stories”. Qualitative Sociology Review, April 2006.
Jones, K. (Special Issue Editor) with M. Gergen, J. J. Guiney Yallop, I, Lopez de Vallejo, B. Roberts & P.Wright (Co-Editors) (2008) Forum: Qualitative Social Research Special Issue on Performative Social Science (42 articles) 9:2 (May 2008).
Law, John, Urry, John (2004) Enacting the social. Economy and Society, 33,3: 390-410.
Smith, S.J. (1997) Beyond geography's visible worlds: a cultural politics of music. Progress in Human Geography, 21, 4: 502-529.
Sontag, S. (1967) “The Aesthetics of Silence” Aspen Magazine 5-6.