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.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

He Removed His Cow from Her Field

Stories of Older Lesbians and Gay Men from Rural Britain

Cows gently grazing at one of the locations of the Rufus Stone shoot. © 2012 KiPjONES
I am pleased to announce that the on line research journal Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS) has published an article reporting on our project on LGBT ageing and rurality at Bournemouth University supported by Research Councils UK. The open access and pioneering journal FQS  affords us the luxury of telling four of the participants' life stores in full in the article.The four-year Gay and Pleasant Land? ... study built upon foundational Biographic Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM) interviews to then create the script for the short film, Rufus Stone.
The article is now published at: 
http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1919
"Collecting Older Lesbians' and Gay Men's Stories of Rural Life in South West England and Wales: 'We Were Obviously Gay Girls ... (So) He Removed His Cow From Our Field'". Kip Jones, Lee-Ann Fenge, Rosie Read & Marilyn Cash, authors


 My thanks to my co-authors, the research team and the citizen advisors who contributed at every step along the way in making this possible

I am particularly proud of the fact that my writing has evolved through the processes of both writing for this blog and creative writing for the film's back story and treatment. These influences are particularly  evident in how I tell the stories in this article.

More than ever, I remain convinced that we as researchers are conduits for the life stories that our narrators give us and must honour that bond to the best of our ability. This spirit continued in writing and producing the film as well.

I hope that you will enjoy the article and have a chance to see the film if you haven't already.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

“The Gold Rush to Dementia Studies”—advice to a PhD candidate

Enid Cronin as Flip’s mother in the award-winning short film, Rufus Stone. © 2012 Bournemouth University and Kip Jones.
An open response to a PhD candidate’s early proposal for a project investigating the use of technology to support and improve the well being of people with dementia.

I feel that your proposal deserves my full consideration and so, to this end, I contribute a conversation as another scholar who is not directly involved in the project. Although currently considered a ‘filmmaker’ by some, my scholarship remains within the disciplines of gerontology, sociology and social psychology. I remark on your proposal with one or more of those hats on.

The proposal certainly is an interesting one and the research plan quite detailed and ambitious. This last part of that sentence is the component that concerns me somewhat.  I will try to explain why.

The project seems to be (perhaps) a continuation of earlier work that you have engaged in (not always a bad idea). The proposal begins by expressing that the psychosocial may be a better realm in which to seek some answers to the complexities of those living with “so-called dementia” (my term).  It then goes on to detail a kind of “intervention” project with many components, which attempts to replicate studies such as RCTs, etc. (with baseline, during, ‘three-months following’ indicators, etc). The plan tries to predict any or all of the stumbling blocks and pitfalls that may or may not occur along the way (the “anxiety” approach to planning; I use it myself). 

Perhaps a better way forward would be to meet with voluntary agencies, stakeholders, carers, etc., hold confabs, focus groups, etc and then design a truly collaborative plan that engages these participants at every stage. My sense from the plan as well as the language of it and your background is that you are probably more comfortable with projects that involve working with people hands-on.  Conceivably, considering a more substantially qualitative approach and jettisoning the measurement approach would be more realistic and fitting for the project. Revising the research questions to ‘How?’ and ‘Why?” queries would more substantially reflect an interest in the psychosocial and be more appropriate in terms of exploring the results of the planned intervention in some depth in regards to meaning.  Methods such as Participant Action Research, where the plan of action and action itself evolves in an iterative or recursive way by means of a collaboration of researcher with a range of participants as equal partners, might be explored.  The study proposes rural “subjects”: getting to know rural life in this particular geography may also be helpful.

My second concern is for your “student experience” itself and what a meaningful PhD progression should be. At Cambridge recently, a friend who was paying a visit to his Alma Mater said, ‘They showed me that you could learn as much about the Russian revolution by reading Doctor Zhivago as by reading a history of the revolution”. His statement stuck with me; I think that this should be the spirit of the student experience at universities generally.

The “Gold Rush to Dementia Studies” currently in vogue benefits from years of much less currently trumpeted work at its foundation. Decades of pioneering work was accomplished by such luminaries as Lawton at the Philadelphia Geriatric Centre who ‘laid the foundation within the gerontology community upon which all scientists and planners think about the unique needs of people afflicted with Alzheimer's disease’. You mention Kitwood and I would also suggest Stuart-Hamilton: ‘Dementia is not a cut and dried business. We need to stop thinking about it as if a one size fits all explanation will ever suffice, and realise that beyond the illness, a vast range of factors all impinge to make the person with dementia what they are.’ (Stuart-Hamilton  2012, “The Gift of Ageing” Psychology Today). I would add modestly, also makes the person ‘who they are’—which then potentially challenges us to move into the realm of the study of personality and life histories.

I would suggest that you take the time (and breathing space) to both confront and interrogate the status quo in the field of so-called dementia and read laterally, not only for inspiration for your own project, but also to strengthen your scholarly skills.  For example, the etymology of the term “dementia” would be an interesting one to explore. It seems to have now occluded Alzheimer’s as the “popular” term. Yet, the types of “dementia” are quite varied, from alcohol-induced to Aids-related, and from Parkinson’s to Binswanger’s disease. If “dementia” is ‘a blanket term for a set of signs and symptoms’, it would be an interesting challenge to explore how the term is being used (or misused) and what are its origins. 

I know personally that I remain uncomfortable with a term that simply by adding the suffix “-ia” may be attempting to mask one route definition of the word demented: ‘behaving in a strange, stupid or crazy way because you are upset or worried.’  What carer is prepared to pejoratively label their loved one as “demented”?[1]  How does adding the softening suffix move us any further from that kind of assumption really? As an invented term in a parallel universe, ‘Dementia’ could just as easily be a new perfume by Katie Price. 

I suggest reading Susan Sontag’s Illness as a Metaphor as a starting inspiration for a consideration of so-called dementia as a socially constructed concept assembled by language and usage. I would recommend, along with reading within the scholarly publications on dementia, that you also widen your academic explorations and influences.  Consideration of films about carers of people with so-called dementia may enrich your approach (e.g., Amour, Away from Her, Iris, etc). Also reading novels, poetry and auto-ethnographic studies written by carers may prove beneficial. Writing personal reflections about these lateral encounters will produce powerful resources for your use later in writing the thesis.

Part of post-graduate level education is accepting that ‘not knowing’ is part of the process.  A PhD is not simply another examination of what you already know, even have learned.  It is training your self to be comfortable enough with not knowing to explore, investigate and hopefully discover, thus making your contribution to knowledge as a result.

I hope that some of this is helpful.


[1] The demise of the nomenclature,  ‘Spastic Society’, in the UK is an interesting example of language vis-à-vis use and misuse of terms. ‘In an attempt to show disability in a positive light … the society changed to its current name (Scope) on 26 March 1994’