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.

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.