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

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.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Redefining What Gender Means for Universities in the 21st Century

Generation Zed: “fluid” and “ambiguous” are watchwords 

A blog piece entitled, Thoughts on Gender in the 21st Century University Environment” is live on Sage’s Social Science Space from today. The article was inspired  by the recent FHSS Research Committee’s call for dialogue on Gender and Research and informed by an earlier Workshop on Gender and Sexuality in the 21st Century held at Bournemouth in 2017.


In the article, Kip Jones asks academics to pause for a moment and reconsider our definition of gender at a time when the very concept of gender is becoming more fluid for many in the wider population, and particulary amongst youth. The article suggests that “it may be time to redefine the terms by which measurements are made concerning gender in the university workplace. Vocabularies need to reflect more precisely the cultural changes in gender that are taking place both within and outside of the University”.


Jones and the Project Zed team have formed a working group for a proposal for a study to engage GenerationZ teens in developing their own stories on gender, sexuality, and socialisation. The teens will then create a YouTube broadcast series of their own design and production. The Project Zed team includes members from FHSS and FMC, working across several disciplines.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Kip Jones Revisits: "What is the Essence of Qualitative Research?"

Written almost fifteen years ago now, I return to "What is the essence of Qualitative Research?" in an era rife with qualitative researchers and wannabes in a hurry to get qualitative work done. Using terms such as 'analysis' makes them feel important and scientific, possessing special abilities that others can only aspire to.

No, qualitative research has always been particularly about being human. By being human I mean sometimes unsure, befuddled and even confused. That's all okay. It's about a humanness that speaks to being alive and searching for aliveness in others through the work that we do. 

In qualitative research, the tyranny of numbers is abandoned for the enigma of words. It is often seen as rooted in a non-tangible domain, fundamentally experiential and intuitive. 

Qualitative work is in constant, dynamic flux, but moving toward some end-point in an evolutionary way.
There are efforts by the mind to concretise meaning and the qualitative dimension has an integrative function for the researcher.  Unity provides context and meaning and it is toward such unity that the researcher is striving.

Qualitative efforts make use of that part of the person concerned with meaning, truth, purpose or reality—the ultimate significance of things.

Not mere exercises in truth or falsehood, however, these investigations are polyvocal attempts at interfacing with cultural/relational/linguistic accounts of the real.  They are, therefore, interpretations and not truths in the positivistic sense.  The potential of intuition is ultimately a great advantage to this very process. 

‘The social sciences need to re-imagine themselves, their methods and, indeed, their “worlds” if they are to work productively in the 21st Century’ (Law & Urry 2004).

Qualitative research is no longer the poor stepchild of quantitative enquiries.  Over the past twenty years, qualitative research has come into its own, particularly in terms of wider acceptance in academic and policy communities.
  • Qualitative research is always about story reporting and story making.
  • Narrative is a democratising factor in social science research. 
Interpretations of narrative stories strive to capture meanings behind life events at the individual and family levels, often illuminating the social contexts of health, ill health and social care needs. Stories become data within other fields as well, including business, media and even hard science.

One of the virtues of qualitative research is its inclusionary nature and ability to give people a voice, both through the research process itself (for example, through a wide range of qualitative social science practices that include participatory action research, in-depth interviewing, ethnographic studies, visual anthropology, biographic narrative studies and so forth) and in reports, documents and presentations. The importance of this kind of research cannot be overemphasised, particularly when dealing with the disadvantaged and/or the "seldom heard voice". 

An anthropological approach to social science studies

Definition: Anthropology is the science of the nature of humankind, embracing Human Physiology and Psychology and their mutual bearing.

Narrative is a core element of anthropology because it provides access to people’s life worlds.

Adopting a narrative rather than an empirical mode of inquiry allows investigators to get closer to the phenomena studied in several ways:  
1. First, the narrative provides access to the specific rather than the abstract; 
2. Secondly, narratives allow experience to unfold in a temporal way; 
3. Thirdly, everyday language and its nuances are encouraged; 
4. Finally, narrative permits dynamics to reveal themselves in the actions and relationships presented.

Anthropology advances knowledge of who we are, how we came to be that way and where we may go in the future.
We see the lives of others through lenses of our own grinding and they look back on ours through ones of their own’—Geertz 

Anthropology seeks to uncover principles of behaviour that apply to all human communities.
Social constructionism, as described by Kenneth Gergen (1985), maintains that knowledge, scientific or otherwise, is not obtained by objective means but is constructed through social discourse. No single point of view is more valid than another, because all points of view are embedded in a social context that gives them meaning. ‘Such a view does not obliterate empirical science; it simply removes its privilege of claiming truth beyond community’ (Gergen, 1997). 
All truth is local

·        If truth is local, then knowledge can be mined
·        in the self,
·       the family,
·       the community
An era of emergent knowledge

We occupy ‘a world that enacts itself to produce unpredictable and non-linear flows and more mobile subjectivities’ (Law & Urry 2004)

French educator Pierre Lévy (1991; c. 1997) believes that profound changes are occurring in the way we acquire knowledge and supports the potential collective intelligence of human groups through emerging spaces of knowledge that are continuous, evolving and non-linear.  Lévy states that since the end of the 19th Century the cinema has given us a kinetic medium for representation (Lévy, 2003b: 3).  In fact, ‘we think by manipulating mental models which, most of the time, take the form of images.  This does not mean the images resemble visible reality, they are more of a dynamic map-making’ (Lévy, 2003b: 4). 

Rethinking our relationship within communities and across disciplines such as the arts and humanities offers up opportunities for us to move beyond imitation of “scientistic” reports in dissemination of our work and look towards means of representation that embrace the humanness of social science pursuits.  This creates a clearing in which meaningful dialogue with a wider audience is possible, feedback that is constructive and dialogical in its nature becomes feasible, and dissemination of social science data transforms into something not only convivial, but also even playful.  Presentations can then evolve into ways of creating meaningful local encounters and performances, in the best sense of these words. 

Collaborations offer us opportunities for meaningful dialogue between disparate communities, opening up unknown possibilities for future dialogues and associations.  Co-operation itself, therefore, becomes a creative act, often stretching the boundaries of our understanding and prodding us to come up with fresh and innovative ways of overcoming practical obstacles in knowledge transfer. 

 Knowledge-sharing is sought that is
Producing knowledge that is

‘A fluid and decentred social science for knowing the world allegorically, indirectly, perhaps pictorially, sensuously, poetically…’ (Law & Urry 2004).

‘I seek an interpretive social science that is simultaneously auto-ethnographic, vulnerable, performative and critical’ (Denzin 2001).


Clifford Geertz Anthropologist
Thomas Scheff Sociologist
Yvonna Lincoln Educationalist
Norman Denzin Sociologist
Mark Freeman Philosopher of Psychology 
John Urry Sociologist
Pierre Lévy Anthropologist of Communication
Rom Harré Philosopher of Psychology Science Language and Thought
Kenneth Gergen Social Psychologist
John Law Sociologist
Mary Gergen Social Psychologist and Feminist


Friday, 5 October 2018

RUFUS STONE Screened at Arts Festival

The award-winning, research-based biopic RUFUS STONE was recently screened three times daily at the Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival.

My co-author and co-editor on several occasions, Trevor Hearing, took these photos of the film being watched (or not as these things go) at the Festival.



Trevor and I wrote about the process of creating the short research-based film, RUFUS STONE here 

Eight years on, the continuing interest in RUFUS STONE is astounding.




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.


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"

  Performative Social Science

  "Styles of Good Sense” Ethics, Filmmaking and Scholarship


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 1985

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.