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Being Realistic by Demanding the Impossible: Beginning the Bricolage

Earl, C (2013) Being Realistic by Demanding the Impossible: Beginning the Bricolage. Enquire, 6.

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Abstract

In this paper, which is drawn from an educational study of The Occupy Movement (Occupy), I will argue that when studying a complex phenomenon, which is not normally associated with the ‘discipline’ of education, the only way to understand in depth what you are seeing; to create an authentic and rigorous interpretation of it, is to use a radical bricolage approach. I will also go on to explore the idea that the research method should mirror the phenomena that it investigates, so when studying a radical phenomenon such as Occupy, one should turn to a radical approach to research to create symmetry between object and method. I will then discuss how this is possible in the context of an early career researcher who, by necessity, can only use an unsophisticated form of bricolage due to the inexperience of the researcher at the beginning of their journey and how they can conceptualise this form of bricolage as ‘radical research’ in order to avoid unnecessary criticism. A study of Occupy from an educational perspective has to be trans- and multi- disciplinary by its very nature, in order to understand how and why the movement came about and what it might teach us about education. Bricolage, as a radical research methodology captures this nature very well, using transdisciplinary theoretical thinking alongside a mesh of research methodologies, makes this an exceptional way to both understand and capture complexity in both object and method. The paper examines bricolage from an early research perspective and discusses what disciplines the researcher may need to draw upon for the study. This is the beginning of my journey; these are my initial thoughts, which, in the true spirit of bricolage and critical pedagogy, will be re-read, re-written and re-thought throughout my learning journey.

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