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BRICOLAGE + INTER/INTRA/MULTI/TRANS-DISCIPLINARITY

“The bricolage views research methods actively rather than passively, meaning that we construct our research methods from the tools at hand rather than passively receiving the ‘correct’, universally applicable methodologies […] bricoleurs also steer clear of preexisting guidelines and checklists developed outside the specific demands of the inquiry at hand. In its embrace of complexity, the bricolage constructs a far more active role for humans both in shaping reality and in creating the research processes and narrative that represent it” Kincheloe and McLaren, 2005, p.317.

 

“In the active bricolage, we bring our understanding of the research context together with our previous experience with research methods. Using these knowledges, we tinker in the Levi-Straussian sense with our research methods in field-based and interpretative contexts. This tinkering is a high level cognitive process involving construction and reconstruction, contextual diagnosis, negotiation and readjustment. Researcher’s interactions with the objects of their inquiries, bricoleurs understand, are always complicated, mercurial, unpredictable, and of course, complex. Such conditions negate the practice of planning research strategies in advance […] bricoleurs enter in the research act as methodological negotiators”, Kincheloe and McLaren, 2005, p.317

Bricolage


In the visual arts, the term bricolage describes the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available or ‘to hand’. Not just an additive or accumulative project, the bricoleur (who practises the art of bricolage) creatively brings separate materials or artifacts together through combination and reuse in order to produce new meanings and insights, or integrates a variety of knowledge sets in order to produce inventive work. Bricolage Research (as conceptualized by Denzin and Lincoln, and further theorized by Kincheloe and Berry) denotes methodological practices explicitly based on notions of eclecticism, emergent design, flexibility and plurality; it describes a critical, multi-perspectival, multi-theoretical and multi-methodological approach to inquiry. However, bricolage is not just about an eclectic approach, but also has a specific theoretical and etymological foundation, with specific origins in anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss’s notion of “social bricolage”, as well as in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, where in their 1972 book Anti-Oedipus, they describe bricolage as a ‘schizoanalytic’ (1972), transgressive, mode of production.


 

Aspects drawn from various sources including Matt Rogers (2012) and Kincheloe and McLaren (2005).

 

Practice research exists across and beyond boundaries. A practice research approach can often involve the inventive combination of methods, practices or ways of doing things drawn both from an artistic context and also from wider disciplinary fields. How different methods and approaches are negotiated, navigated, brought into dialogue or even into friction can be understood and organised in different ways. The overarching research ethos can be understood in terms of intra-, inter-, trans-, or multi- disciplinarity (perhaps adopting "compound methods" or a combination of methods); as a hybrid research approach involving different methods; or as a bricolage of multi-modal, multi-perspectival, multi-theoretical methods. Note though, a "mixed method" approach is a specific term for referring to the combination of qualitative and quantitative methods.

 


 

The term inter-disciplinary is often used interchangeably with other terms including cross-disciplinary (the practice of viewing one discipline from the perspective of another); multi-disciplinary (an additive knowledge that draws on the expertise of several disciplines but largely without integration), the intra-disciplinary (work within a single discipline but demanding collaboration between its sub-disciplines) or even trans-disciplinary (that which attempts to go beyond, to transgress or transcend disciplinary boundaries) – however, each term is distinct and reflects a specific research approach and attitude. “Multidisciplinary is understood to be an additive approach – using knowledge from more than one discipline which are not themselves transformed by being used in conjunction with one another. Transdisciplinary aspires to be a more holistic approach, and aims to displace disciplinary formations. Interdisciplinarity is characterised as interaction across and between disciplines. Importantly, this interaction is not oriented toward either a synthesis or a disappearance of disciplines, Instead, interdisciplinarity emerges through interferences between disciplines and between disciplines and other forms of knowledge.” (Lury,  2018, p.1)

Interdisciplinary Research


Interdisciplinary research combines methods or approaches of two or more disciplines within one activity or research project in the search or creation of new knowledge, operations, or artistic expressions, by thinking across boundaries, or by crossing traditional boundaries. Interdisciplinary research can use methods and insights of several established disciplines or traditional fields of study, and might involve interactions between researchers and methods from different disciplines. An interdisciplinary approach is sometimes applied to complex subjects that can only be understood by combining the perspectives of two or more fields or where a subject is felt to have been neglected or even misrepresented in the traditional disciplinary structure of research institutions, or where a subject cannot easily be approached from any single disciplinary perspective. Interdisciplinary research is understood to achieve outcomes (including new approaches) that could not be achieved within the framework of a single discipline. Interdisciplinary research features significant interaction between two or more disciplines and/or moves beyond established disciplinary foundations in applying or integrating research approaches from other disciplines.

 

Compiled from various sources including James Bulley & Özden Şahin (eds.) Practice Research - Report 1: What is practice research? and Report 2: How can practice research be shared?. (London: PRAG-UK, 2021), p.16; Routledge Handbook of Interdisciplinary Research Methods (2018) and wikpedia entry on Interdisciplinarity.

Moti Nissani outlines the value and importance of interdisciplinary knowledge and research including: “Creativity often requires interdisciplinary knowledge […] Some worthwhile topics of research fall in the interstices among the traditional disciplines […]  Many intellectual, social, and practical problems require interdisciplinary approaches […] Interdisciplinary knowledge and research serve to remind us of the unity-of-knowledge ideal […]  More so than narrow disciplinarians, interdisciplinarians often treat themselves to the intellectual equivalent of traveling in new lands […]  Interdisciplinarians may help breach communication gaps in the modern academy, thereby helping to mobilize its enormous intellectual resources in the cause of greater social rationality and justice […]  By bridging fragmented disciplines, interdisciplinarians might play a role in the defense of academic freedom. “, in ‘Ten cheers for interdisciplinarity: The case for interdisciplinary knowledge and research’, The Social Science Journal, 34, 201-216.

 

“Interdisciplinary methods are not mere links or associations between disciplines that somehow stand above our outside their object of study, but dynamic conduits for relations of interference in which differences and assymetries between disciplines are explored and exploited in relation to specific problems, in specific places, with specific materials” Celia Lury, Routledge Handbook of Interdisciplinary Research Methods, 2018, p.21.

 

Celia Lury draws on Michel Serres writing to argue that, “…. By pre-posing problems – that is, by ‘following out the ‘with’ of communication and contract, the ‘across of translation, the ‘among’ and ‘between’ of interferences, the ‘through’ of the channels through which Hermes and Angels pass, the ‘alongside’ of the parasite, the ‘beyond’ of detachment (Serres, 1994: 83) interdisciplinary methods can activate the present.” She continues that the handbooks concern with -ings (with entries including Making and Assembling, Arranging, Drawing, Figuring, Diffracting, Timing, Digging, Diagramming, Dissenting, Troubling) “is intended to identify the potential of interdisciplinary methods to compose problems as interruptions of the (historical) present. That is, the aim is to emphasise the role of interdisciplinary methods in the activation of the present […]” Routledge Handbook of Interdisciplinary Research Methods, 2018, p.3.

 

Lury continues to explore the “compound” and “lateral” dimension of interdisciplinary research: “One of the reasons to focus on compound methods, as we do here is to detach techniques from specific disciplinary uses (and related proprietary claims) and describe them instead in terms that can be recognised across disciplines […] Describing the methods included here as compound is also designed to demonstrate inter- rather than meta- or trans-disciplinarity: that is, it is to show how methods emerge from within a necessarily contingent, more-or-less enduring interaction between disciplines” (p.7).

 

She states that interdisciplinary methods are methods of the lateral. “…. The lateral observes a many-to-many relation between domains of knowledge and practice. To describe interdisciplinary methods as methods of the lateral is thus to draw attention to the many-to many relations that are made across and between disciplines”, p.21

Multidisciplinary Research


Multidisciplinary research is where disciplines work separately to examine a research question. Findings are then juxtaposed, to engender new ways of knowing. […] Juxtaposition fosters wider scope of knowledge, information, and methods. Yet, disciplines remain separate, retain their original identity, and are not questioned. This tendency is widespread in conferences and publications that present serial views of a shared topic or problem. Likewise, many purportedly “interdisciplinary” curricula and research projects combine separate disciplinary approaches without proactively integrating them around a designed theme, question, or problem.

 

Julie Thompson Klein, “Typologies of Interdisciplinarity: The Boundary Work of Definition,” in Robert Frodeman; Julie Thompson Klein (eds.) The Oxford handbook of interdisciplinarity, (Oxford University Press, 2017), p.23, cited in James Bulley & Özden Şahin (eds.) Practice Research - Report 1: What is practice research? and Report 2: How can practice research be shared?. (London: PRAG-UK, 2021, p.16.

 

Transdisciplinary Research


Transdisciplinarity is an extension of interdisciplinarity that transforms ways of knowing across and beyond disciplinary frameworks.

Bibliography/links


Bricolage

'Bricolage' in Michael Hammond (ed.), Research Methods: Key Concepts (London and New York: Routledge, 2021), pp.19 - 20.

 

Joe L. Kincheloe, ‘On to the Next Level: Continuing the Conceptualization of the Bricolage’, QUALITATIVE INQUIRY / June 2005.

 

Kincheloe and McLaren, ‘Critical Research Encounters the Bricolage’, in Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln, SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, (SAGE Publications, 2005, 3rd Edition.), pp. 316.

 

Matt Rogers, ‘Contextualizing Theories and Practices of Bricolage Research'. The Qualitative Report, 17(48), 1-17, 2012. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2012.1704


Interdisciplinarity

'Interdisciplinarity' in Michael Hammond (ed.), Research Methods: Key Concepts (London and New York: Routledge, 2021), pp.103 - 104.


Celia Lury et al, (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Interdisciplinary Research Methods, (London and New York, Routledge, 2018)

 

Moti Nissani, ‘Ten cheers for interdisciplinarity: The case for interdisciplinary knowledge and research’, The Social Science Journal, 34, 201-216.


Multidisciplinarity

Julie Thompson Klein, “Typologies of Interdisciplinarity: The Boundary Work of Definition,” in Robert Frodeman; Julie Thompson Klein (eds.) The Oxford handbook of interdisciplinarity, (Oxford University Press, 2017)