Kip Jones

KIP JONES, an American by birth, has been studying and working in the UK for more than 20 years.
Under the umbrella term of 'arts-led 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 was Reader in Performative Social Science and Qualitative Research at
Bournemouth University for 15 years.
He is now a Visiting Scholar and and an independent author and scholar.

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.
Jones' most recent work involves working with Generation Z youth to tell their stories using
social media.
His ground-breaking use of qualitative methods, including Auto-fiction, 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 14,000 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
and The Independent.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Sometimes I feel like Susan Boyle...

Jeffrey is using his blog and autoethnography to navigate his PhD at Lancaster. He often asks me short, concise 'just the facts, ma'm' kinds of questions on the blog or in response to my postings.

I feel like Susan Boyle. She is answering questions such as 'What's your favorite meal? What's your favorite show tune?" in videos on her website. Yoko Ono answers 10-15 questions from 'readers' a week on Twitter. The era of the fast and furious, no-nonsense reply is upon us.

Jeffrey asks (Do you like that use of the newspaper-style breezy present tense?):
  • Kip, I think you hit on the reason why autoethnography may be so contentious a method! From this vantage, how would you define this (especially for those who find it easy to confuse the two)?
'My personal story is simply one of the raw materials used to produce my product. What I construct stands alone for what it is (a story, a painting, an A/V production), but comes to life when it engages with the response that it instils in the reader/viewer/audience, “… those wonderful people out there in the dark!”' Rough talk and chocolate brownies

In the best autoethnography, I am always a minor character and/or a conduit to a time, place and other people. I become fictional through writing. I am the sorcerer who reminds the audience of themselves.

Reflexive writing is more like a diary; private thoughts that perhaps I share, perhaps I do not. They remind me of myself. I get to be Proust in private.

To do good research, it is myself that often that I need to get out of the way, so writing about my self may help me accomplish this.

A 'personal journey' PhD is often boring and usually takes about twice as much time anyway. If you already know the subject of your research, what is the point of investigating it?

Hubris is one of the best Greek words.

[Your supervisors should be discussing all of this with you. You can say I said so!]

Thursday, 26 November 2009

... a roving and disconnected type of writing ...

'... the exposition of an idea through fragments, through a roving and disconnected type of writing, can sometimes better circumscribe its object than can a more linear approach'.
--Nicolas Bourriaud (2009) The Radicant

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Relational Humanism in documentation and dissemination

‘We locate in a specifically relational humanism a new and significant means of realizing traditional visions of human well-being’ (Gergen 1997). Social science often has sought new ways of attaining greater "sensibility" to humanistic concerns; nonetheless, the status of new forms of production and dissemination as academic knowledge remains contested and ambiguous, and further development is required (Jones 2006).

Any large and diverse research project benefits from the documentation of its very development. Relational humanism in documentation and dissemination means that personal autonomy, dignity, liberty and responsibility are considered positive values for consideration throughout the on-going dialogue created by the research itself and its dissemination. It is through having a record of this very process that knowledge can be shared with others, creating a continuum on which the outcomes of a project's efforts can begin to flourish. The concern is with ambiguity, process, meaning, totality and history (Plummer 1983) through the continuity and “aliveness” of ideas. Humanising the process of documentation can be achieved by historically accurate ways: by listening to the stories of process and change within the research development itself. In turn, humanising the method of dissemination means consideration of any audience's part in the overall progression and building audience participation into the overall plan. A relational humanism urges us as theorists, human scientists and practitioners to seek ways – multiple ways - of generating integrative conversation.

Relational humanism thus appears not as ‘top-down’ concept but as a practical process of give-and-take by all of the players. Humanism also prompts us to imagine our potential audiences in ways which challenge us to re-imagine the commonweal, common good, or imagined community across disciplines and the intellectual freedom (Wakelin 2007) of our audiences themselves—a relational aesthetic (Bourriaud 2002; Jones 2006). Our considerations, through embodied perception, encourage us to walk around the edges of processes, to see beyond factuality to the humanism hidden on the other side. By extending our gaze beyond the usual, to new technologies and modes of presentation, we open doors to new understandings and resources (Jones 2006).

‘The precise meaning of relatedness, then, remains indeterminate and dependent upon further co-ordinations within relationship’ (Gergen 1997).


Bourriaud, N. (2002; English version) Relational Aesthetics. Dijon, France: Les Presses du Reel.

Gergen, K.J. (1997) Social Theory in Context: Relational Humanism. Draft copy for J. Greenwood (ed), The mark of the social. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

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 06.

Plummer, K. (1983) Documents of Life An Introduction to the Problems and Literature of a Humanistic Method. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Wakelin, D. (2007) Humanism, Reading, and English Literature 1430-1530.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Some simple thoughts, some more complex ones

Elana wrote and asked me what thoughts I had on social science and artistic vision (in her case, photography) and the merging of the two fields. Are there specific criteria that I hope to see reflected in the creation of ‘scientifically supportive imagery’?

I responded that I still find writing about the visual to be ironic, at best. I strongly believe that we can learn more by looking, reveal more by showing than through simple justification in text. Art and Science are both about discovery and creating a record of that discovery. Both are infused with the time and place in which they are practiced. The 'audience' for any work of art, any scientific discovery makes the ultimate interpretation. This is as it should be.

The visual image needs to be interrogated. Just like a criminal in a police station. We should never accept what we first see as the final truth, but realise that we are peeling an onion of multiple truths (and lies). Sociology, when done well, is a good detective story.

Some of the best 'social photography' today is done on cell/mobile phones and appears on flickr and Facebook. Photography does not always have to have a 'cause' or social issue in order to be about social life. There is much fodder for investigation in the ordinary.

Elana cited Howard Becker a lot.
It reminded me of his piano playing. I want both Beckers/I want to be both. I suggested that Elana read this blog. I proposed that it is a non-course in performative social science, an educational process by subterfuge (see preceding blog item).

Next, an anthropological journal sent me a friend’s paper on the use of poetry in social science to review. I highly recommended publication of the paper; then I added:

When any breakthrough occurs in art (or social science or anthropology?), it is necessary in order for it to find its place on a continuum of time that other attempts are made to refine answers to a set of questions that change only slowly (Kubler, The Shape of Time, 1962). This effort in the refinement of the use of poetics in social science contributes to the development of the use of the arts in this arena by astutely placing the case in a solid social science framework. Not the artistic endeavor that will punctuate the historical continuum as a great work of art, rather, this contribution is the quieter and deeper foundation-building labour that is necessary for other great strides forward to make their mark and prosper in the first place.

The author only hints at the audience (or community) so necessary for the dialogic to exist within our relationships with works of art. Further attention to relational aesthetics (Bourriaud 2001) may very well help inform further development of the theoretical base for poetics in social science research. The intuitive aspects of a shared culture, coupled with a more universal response to injustices (and, therefore, an artistic expression of these emotive components), compete for resolution within more rigid ethical frameworks and well-tested methodologies in the discussion. My take is that by developing a trust in personal instinct and intuition and the naturally expressive and moral potential of these resources, social science research will become more comfortable within these new paradigms and more willing to jettison some of the baggage of its old ‘academic rigor’ and procedural ethics.

Monday, 21 September 2009

PM's apology to codebreaker Alan Turing: we were inhumane

• Enigma genius chemically castrated for being gay

• Admission comes 55 years after Turing took his life

Caroline Davies The Guardian, Friday 11 September 2009

Alan Turing, mathematician who helped crack German codes during the second world war. Photograph: Public Domain

Gordon Brown issued an unequivocal apology last night on behalf of the government to Alan Turing, the second world war codebreaker who took his own life 55 years ago after being sentenced to chemical castration for being gay.

Describing Turing's treatment as "horrifying" and "utterly unfair", Brown said the country owed the brilliant mathematician a huge debt. He was proud, he said, to offer an official apology. "We're sorry, you deserved so much better," Brown writes in a statement posted on the No 10 website.

Turing is most famous for his work in helping create the "bombe" that cracked messages enciphered with the German Enigma machines. He was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 after admitting a sexual relationship with a man.

He was given experimental chemical castration as a "treatment". His criminal record meant he was unable to continue his work for the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) because his security privileges were withdrawn. Two years later he killed himself, aged 41.

Thousands have signed a Downing Street petition calling for an official apology, among them the novelist Ian McEwan, scientist Richard Dawkins, and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Paying tribute to Turing's contribution to "Britain's fight against the darkness of dictatorship", Brown described him as "a quite brilliant mathematician".

"Without his outstanding contribution, the history of world war two could well have been very different," he writes.

"The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of gross indecency – in effect, tried for being gay.

"His sentence – and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison – was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones."

The petition, which yesterday had 30,805 signatures, was the idea of computer scientist John Graham-Cumming, who has also written to the Queen to request Turing be awarded a posthumous knighthood. Although an official apology is unusual, the act is seen as symbolic. Alan Turing is survived by three neices – Inagh, Shuna and Janet, from his brother's first marriage – and a nephew, John Dermot Turing, from his brother's second marriage, along with their associated family members.

Acknowledging the strength of feeling, Brown wrote: "Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him.

"Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

"This recognition of Alan's status as one of Britain's most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue."

"But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind … It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe's history and not Europe's present.

"So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better."

Though most famous for his codebreaking, Turing is often considered to be the father of modern computer science, having made highly significant contributions to the emerging field of artificial intelligence and computing. After the war he worked at many institutions, including the University of Manchester, where he worked on the Manchester mark 1, one of the first recognisable modern computers.

In 1999 Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.

• This article was amended on Sunday 13 September 2009. We said that Alan Turing, the man often considered the father of modern computer science had no surviving family. In fact, his family includes three nieces, a nephew and his mother, and several children and spouses of this group. This has been corrected. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Masterclass in Theatrical Improvisation of Research Data

Bournemouth University’s Centre for Qualitative Research

is excited to announce a two-day

Masterclass in Theatrical Improvisation

of Research Data

For researchers, film & theatre folk and citizens!

With Sharon Muiruri and Kip Jones

15th & 16th February, 2010

We are looking for a small group of people with some background in film, theatre or improvisation work or at least an interest in performance who are not shy about experimenting in front of each other! You don’t necessarily need to be a researcher or a performer; rather, we are more interested in a gathering of creative people with an interest in performance as a way of raising awareness. If you are fascinated by learning about improvisation and its potential as an interpretive tool for research, then this is a great opportunity to try something cutting edge in the research process. This is definitely a new way of thinking about the interpretation of research data through improvisation.

The fee for this Masterclass is £99.00 for two full days.

Contact: or call Claire: +44 (0)1202 962179

More information

Monday, 7 September 2009

Method Meets Art

Method Meets Art
Arts-Based Research Practice
byPatricia Leavy

'This book presents the first comprehensive introduction to arts-based research (ABR) practices, which scholars in multiple disciplines are fruitfully using to reveal information and represent experiences that traditional methods cannot capture. Each of the six major ABR genres—narrative inquiry, poetry, music, performance, dance, and visual art—is covered in chapters that introduce key concepts and tools and present an exemplary research article by a leading ABR practitioner. Patricia Leavy discusses the kinds of research questions these innovative approaches can address and offers practical guidance for applying them in all phases of a research project, from design and data collection to analysis, interpretation, representation, and evaluation'.

'I am cited lavishly throughout this ground-breaking publication, so proceed with caution!' --Kip Jones

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Who knew?

'As I recall from my own college days, the “genius” professors weren’t always as predictable or pleasant as those who seemed more devoted to the teaching profession than to their own ideas. But I remember them better. The feet of an impassioned, bizarre, and brilliant professor were worth sitting at. They (the professors, not the feet) challenged my perception of what reasoning was, what it meant to have an independent mind'. --The New Yorker

Saturday, 1 August 2009

'The love of the light on the land and the blackbird's cry'

This photo montage, 'Blackbirds/Sally (Venice)' (and above), was not used in a recent web post that we submitted about our 'Grey and Pleasant Land' projects at Bournemouth University.

I have often commented on the insensitivity of the photographs used to illustrate stories about ageing. These are generally of two types: ones that infantalise older people or others that portray them as 'poor old dears'. Neither are acceptable or represent the wide diversity of older people or the range of possibilities to be found in later life, in my estimation.

This photo represents ageing as a reflective time of life and the opportunities that growing older provides through the latent potential of memories. This has resonance with Lars Tornstam's theory of gerotranscendence or 'a shift in meta perspective, from a materialistic and rational view of the world to a more cosmic and transcendent one, normally accompanied by an increase in life satisfaction'. (See Tornstam) I have written about gerotranscendence in The Spiritual Dimension: a gerotranscendental take on Akira Kurosawa´s film "Ran", linked on Tornstam's website.

The song, 'The Valley' by ISSA (Jane Siberry) ( below) inspired the photo montage as well as the short A/V production concerning our project, "Gay and Pleasant Land...", one of the seven Grey and Pleasant Land projects being carried out at four universities in the south west of England and Wales, part of the NDA programme of research on ageing in 21st Century Britain.

ISSA has graciously gifted us with the publishing rights to the song to use in our project. We hope to use the song in a short film that will be the outcome of three years of intensive research on old gay and lesbian citizens who frequently live isolated lives in rural settings in the south west of England and Wales.

The Valley (lyrics)
I live in the hills
You live in the valleys
And all that you know are those blackbirds
You rise every morning
Wondering what in the world will the world bring today
Will it bring you joy or will it take it away
And every step you take is guided by
The love of the light on the land and the blackbird's cry
You will walk in good company
The valley is dark
The burgeoning holding
The stillness obscured by their judging
You walk through the shadows
Uncertain and surely hurting
Deserted by the blackbirds and the staccato of the staff
And though you trust the light towards which you wend your way
Sometimes you feel all that you wanted has been taken away
You will walk in good company
I love the best of you
You love the best of me
Though it is not always easy
Lovely? lovely?
We will walk in good company
The shepherd upright and flowing
You see...

--Jane Siberry (I S S A)

Performance of 'The Valley' in Sydney by kd lang
"I'd have to say that Jane Siberry's 'The Valley' is probably my ultimate, all-time favorite song. I really love the sentiment of it," lang says. "I haven't talked to Jane directly about it, but what I've heard is that she wrote it when she lived across from a special needs facility. She used to see one of the residents walking...and she was trying to understand the world they were existing in. To me, that's a really beautiful way to basically approach everyone, because in essence we're all in the hills and all in the valleys, as the song says. It just depends on where your perspective is. But I just love the sentiment of [the verse] 'you will walk in good company' because we're all here."--Boston Globe - July 9, 2004.

Friday, 17 July 2009

YouTube Culture and the Politics of Authenticity

From Citizentube:

One of the most talked-about sessions at the Personal Democracy Forum conference we attended a few weeks back in New York was Professor Michael Wesch's speech, "The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube Culture and the Politics of Authenticity." Michael teaches cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, and has most recently focused on the impact of social media and digital culture on society.

Working alongside his students as digital explorers, Michael set out to learn about the YouTube phenomenon through experimentation. Just like a team of anthropologists living with tribes in the rain forest to learn about their culture, Michael and his students went "native" into the YouTube ecosystem, uploading videos, sharing them, talking with other YouTubers, and recording their thoughts along the way.

In essence, Michael and his students are exploring how our media shapes us. If the revolution of TV created a society where mindless suburbanites fixated on one-way conversations being blasted at them through their television sets, then the Internet has brought new opportunities for 2-way communication and community building through our computer screens. Yet the web also creates infinite opportunities to amplify the inane, and allows a new kind of anonymity that can lead to malaise and lack of responsibility. YouTube - which allows for both personalization and anonymity - represents this phenomenon in unique ways, and what Michael and his students discover in their research is thought-provoking. So much so that National Geographic recently named Michael an "Emerging Explorer." Not bad for a guy whose research involves watching a lot of YouTube videos.

This 30-minute speech he gave at the Personal Democracy Forum is well worth watching for anyone who's interested in YouTube and modern culture.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Academics Alert: Why it is time to stop hiding in ivory towers ...

Nationalist counterdemonstrators shout homophobic slogans at gay protesters in Moscow

'Many professionals in health, education, and community service roles are caught in a particular identity bind—living in a complex social borderland of credibility and professional authority while experiencing or having experienced the same discrimination,violence and/or trauma they’ve committed their working lives to helping others overcome. For some, the disclosure of their own stories of marginalization has become a tool for advocacy, for telling a larger truth; for others,self-disclosure is a more personal action, intended to assist those isolated in their suffering in developing trust and connection'
.--‘Speaking Out’ by Linde Zingaro

When we uncover injustice,prejudice and (quite frankly) illegal hatred and bigotry in the process of carrying out our work, we are ethically bound to out it. Expediency, by keeping such outrage quiet, hidden and out of view, is the greatest unethical practice of all. There are times when academia needs to stop being just a 'talking shop' and take a stand on principle.

The bigot may cry: "Oh! You've have misrepresented and vilified me!" I respond: "Then why did you engage in such verbal abuse in the first place? Your insults are perceived as encouraging hatred amongst your peers towards me and others like me." I have protected your anonymity in order that you might think about your actions and the damage that they may cause to others. I expose your actions as an example from which others may learn. I 'speak out' so that such behaviour and abuse will not continue unchecked.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

"Got to. This America, man"

“You show me anything that depicts institutional progress … anything that somebody can get a promotion on, and as soon as you invent that statistical category 50 people in that institution will be at work trying to figure out a way to make it look as if progress is actually occurring when actually no progress is... The same game is played everywhere – nobody’s actually in the business of doing what the institution is supposed to do... If there’s an institution that is supposed to serve you or that you are supposed to serve, and it’s supposed to care for you and be a societal positive, it will betray you.” David Simon, creator of The Wire.

Bill Moyers interview with David Simon.

Friday, 19 June 2009

The one about Princess Margaret

Place: New York City Time: 1965

An auto-ethnography/auto-biography/auto-ephemera audio/visual production that describes its creator as a member of a culture at a specific time and place: being queer in 1965 on one night in New York City at a famous (straight) mod nightclub, “Arthur”.

Themes include being different, the celebration of being an outsider, seeing oneself from outside of the “norm”, and the interior conflicts of “coming out” within a continuum as a (gay) male in a straight world. These observations are set within the flux and instability of a period of great social change, but which are often viewed in retrospect as consistent and definable. Being straight or being gay can also be viewed in a similar way within the wider culture’s need to set up a sexual binary and force sexual “choice” decision-making for the benefit of the majority culture.

As auto-ephemera, it documents minor transient personal moments of everyday life: something transitory, lasting a day. Through the device of the fleeting moment, the story interrogates the certainties and uncertainties of the “norms” of modernity.

'The one about Princess Margaret'

The script for the video is available. An article about how the video came to be, "How Did I Get to Princess Margaret? (And How Did I Get Her to the World Wide Web?)" is also available. See also: Exploring Online Methods at Leicester University and Ethnography And The Internet: An Exploration

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Alistair Stories...

Alistair. There’s a book in my Alistair stories to be told someday. He wasn’t famous, but yes, we admired the same famous people. Laurie Anderson was one of them.

I met Alistair in a Philadelphia gay disco standing next to a popcorn machine at a Sunday afternoon ‘tea dance’ sometime back in the early 80s. He was from New Zealand, travelling around the US on one of those one-price open tickets, had just been in NYC staying at the Chelsea Hotel (to soak up the atmosphere) and had come to my hometown of Philadelphia to visit its wonderful Museum of Art.

I didn’t know where NZ was exactly, but I thought it was near Japan. I gave him my Japan (David Sylvian) badge (a band I loved at the time).

After a lot of push/pull, a lot of doubt and angst and, only on his second night in Philadelphia, we slept together. I say angst, because he was the kind of “with it”, young beauty with just enough NZ exoticism to make him totally out of my league. So of course, I was immediately smitten and fell in love and went into my sick puppy act. He was leaving on the morning of the third day. How could he? I had just found him. My club friends were jealous so I knew that he must be a catch.

I wanted him back and had no money to follow him to Washington DC. Walking through a square in Philadelphia, tears streaming down my face, I reached into my pocket and found about $15. A florist's shop was just ahead of me and I walked in. I asked the person at the counter, "can you send flowers to DC?" "Yes. Of course. What would you like?" "Flowers like the one's in the film, 'Diva'." "What?" "Just call DC, they will know what I want." The person on the other end did know the film and even squealed, I think, when it was mentioned. The gay mafia. So the flowers were ordered and I was broke.

That Parisian bouquet did finally convince him to return a few days later. We spent almost a week together. A lot of art talk, a lot of fucking.

Then he left for the west coast, never to return.

I was devastated. I couldn’t think of anything else but getting him back to the east coast (and he had that open ticket too). I called him several times a day on the west coast until he stopped answering the phone.

I thought about the famous people he had mentioned to me. I got Divine’s autograph for him. I found some of the hair from disco diva Sylvester’s weave on the floor of my friend’s club and saved it for him.

Then I met Laurie Anderson. She had a one woman show at the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art and so I took my broken heart along to see if viewing someone's work admired by Alistair would remind me of him. ( I told you that I was in bad shape) It was the opening night, so Laurie Anderson was there. The only art I remember was a little muslin doll in a rocking chair on the floor of a gallery with her image projected on it talking to gallery visitors. I thought it was quite funny. (Was I going off the deep end?)

I found Laurie. She was very friendly and we began to chat. Of course, all of my conversations at the time were about Alistair and how in love I was and how I would never see him again and how he was going to leave LA and fly to New Zealand (wherever that was) and how I would never see him again!

I guess I was quite convincing. Laurie responded (I did let her get a word or two into the conversation), “Get a poster or something and I will write him a message”. I grabbed one of her exhibition posters and a marker. She wrote in grand lettering: "Alistair, Come back! He loves you. Laurie Anderson”.

A day or two later I was phone-stalking Alistair in California again. Finally, he picked up.

“I think that you want me to come there, don’t you?"I asked.

“I thought you’d figure it out eventually” he chided. "Meet me in Los Angeles next Monday. I will be at LAX around noon waiting for you with a gelato. Don’t call again.”

I hung up the phone excited beyond belief. I had never even been on a plane before. I had no money. Fortunately, my brother, convinced by my sob story, bought the ticket. I was going to LA to be with Alistair for two weeks!

Alistair, dead centre, as an extra in 'Merrry Christmas, Mr Lawrence' 
I took Laurie’s message with me and handed it to him shortly after I arrived. He acted quite laid-back (it was California after all and he had had a bit part in Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence).

Underneath his slight smile or smirk, I guessed that Laurie had pleased him, even I had pleased him somewhat by coming to California.

The airport departure two weeks later is a story for another time. Suffice it to say that we believed that we would never see each other again.

A few years later, I went to Paris for the first time only because it was a place that Alistair had said that he wanted to visit (although I never admitted to this at the time). I sent him a sarcastic postcard soon after arrival. This postcard journey opened a whole phase in my life (again, a story for another time).

We did meet up again, years later in Philadelphia, when he was on a shoot for the BBC and then several more times when we were both living in London. I was involved with someone else at the time. He seemed more serious and not so light and carefree then. I missed that. We tried to be friends, tried to rekindle something, but it never was quite the same.

Laurie was right. He should have come back when she told him to.

[You can read a short piece of mine in the Journal of Nursing Research on emotion and art. The painting that I talk about in the article is of the beach where Alistair and I spent many days whilst in California. This was my second venture into autobiography 'by stealth' in academic journals. Now you have the back story to that paper too.]

Monday, 15 June 2009

This Simon Biggs!

Thanks to some detective work, we have found Prof Simon Biggs at Edinburgh College of Art.
He dug up the original online conversation, and has posted it on his website

He has a great deal in common with the efforts that we have been making in social science over the past few years.

Which Simon Biggs???

Twitter can be fun. And frustrating. This appeared recently:
"creativity and knowledge formation can be regarded as forms of social interaction rather than outcomes of activities ... Simon Biggs"

Great statement. Fits in with relational aesthetics and gets me excited.

But who is this Simon Biggs? [Turns out there are several Simon Biggs scattered around the globe in academia]

A mystery then. To be solved?

Friday, 29 May 2009

Gay and Pleasant Land?

Gay and pleasant Land? -a study about positioning, ageing and gay life in rural South West England and Wales

Gay and Pleasant Land? from Kip Jones on Vimeo.

Dr Lee Ann Fenge, Dr Kip Jones & Dr Rosie Read, Bournemouth University

A work package in the New Dynamics of Ageing Project, "Grey and Pleasant Land?: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Connectivity of Older People in Rural Civic Society"

The project is rooted in and continues upon in-depth findings and networks established by a three-year action research project, Gay and Grey in Dorset. The Gay and Grey project investigated the needs, wants, fears and aspirations of older lesbians and gay men. This study's conclusions were that older gays and lesbians feel at risk of isolation in rural areas and that this phenomenon needed further study. Further, the study's participants coming out stories seemed to be a device employed in negotiating social inclusion over the life course.

Learning more about how this is accomplished, and over time, seemed important for further investigation. Gathered narrated biographies will eventually form the basis for the composite characters for a short film, produced by a professional filmmaker in collaboration with the research projects investigators. In addition to the collected biographies, visual ethnographic data will be collected which enriches the location, age range and activities of the research population. This primary data will then be interpreted by citizen panels and developed by them, in collaboration with the filmmaker, into the film's script. The professional level, broadcast quality film itself will be totally grounded in the data—both in the life story interviews and the visual anthropological data gleaned from observation in the study's rural communities.

[See also: "Gay and Grey in the Green British Countryside: What could possibly go wrong?"]

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

sound picture: fun on a boat

If it won't play above on your pc, use the link below:
sound picture: fun on a boat from Kip Jones on Vimeo.

Through sound and picture, depicting some old people having fun on a tender boat in a rough bay off of St Peter Port Guernsey

How can we 'see' what we hear? How does image increase our desire to hear? Do we always need to see what we hear, or does our imagination fill in the missing picture?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Ray Johnson. Please Add to & Return

Ray didn't talk about it, he just did it.That's why you don't find art magazines lying around quoting the art philosophy of Ray Johnson.

28 February – 10 May 2009

Raven Row’s inaugural exhibition is the first large UK show of the collages and mailings of New York artist Ray Johnson (1927–1995). Johnson used radical means to construct and distribute images, inadvertently inventing the ‘mail art movement’. He made art out of social life – both real and imagined – gathering celebrities, the art world, and friends into his work. His influence on twentieth century art far exceeds the recognition he receives.

‘Ray Johnson. Please Add to & Return’ is significant in representing Johnson’s mailings, objects he regarded as gifts and thus contrary to the market, equally with the collage works he made for gallery exhibition in the sixties and seventies. Also included are the collages he subjected to a seemingly endless process of reworking and overlaying, which were found signed with multiple dates and neatly arranged in his house at the time of his death.

Wednesday to Sunday


Saturday, 2 May 2009

Philadelphia, my hometown. Makes me very proud.

In Comcast Center's lobby is the Comcast Experience which is a 2,000 square feet (190 m2) high-definition LED screen that has become a tourist attraction. Designed to be environmentally friendly, the skyscraper is the tallest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building in the United States.

The world's largest Barco NX-4 LED installation.
- 83.3´wide by 25.4´high - 5x HD resolution - 10 million pixels

Friday, 1 May 2009

Please help if you can

PHOTO: BTE performers recreating a scene from Antonioni's film, Blow-up at our recent "Love-in" for faculty in Health & Social Care and The Media School at Bournemouth University

Bournemouth Theatre in Education is being shut down. Over many years, this tiny team with a national and international reputation has engaged with countless young people, as well as adults.

The team is particularly important to us at the Centre for Qualitative Research and was key in producing the mime performance at our last Qualitative Research Conference.

Please help if you can. Sign the petition to save Bournemouth Theatre in Education!

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!