Revised research question and methodological issues

We’ve slightly modified our first research question so it is now as follows:

  1. What (if any) are the structures and institutions that motivate, enable and/or constrain an ‘everyday culture of creativity’ in a university context?

The change means we are now focusing on ‘structures’ and ‘institutions’ (which draws from the meta-theory of critical realism, specifically Fleetwood’s 2008a article Institutions and social structures) replacing the original wording of ‘distinctive features’.

The slight alteration is designed to make the research focus on ‘process’ rather than ‘outcome’. This means the research findings will be more useful because it will look to understand the process of building an everyday culture of creativity and the shifting priorities required to allow for playful and imaginative behaviors. Exploring conditions, structures and institutions will mean moving beyond evaluating the specific achievements (or otherwise) of the 33kEA project.

As researchers, we now need to identify the principle structures and institutions to look at. These might include, but are not limited to: norms; beliefs; routines; processes; protocols; and regulations.

Methodological issues

The project is ambitious and fraught with methodological difficulty (e.g. additionality; limited time and resources; reification of single ‘culture’ at King’s; ‘light touch’ evidencing). We need to think carefully about how much (or little) we can reasonably infer from this experiment – couched as it is in the language of ‘hypotheses’. 33kEA will not be able implement all its aims in such a short period (one imagines); highlighting what has not been possible (Popperian falsification) will be as valuable as what has been made possible.

There is a danger of reifying ‘culture at King’s’, giving the false impression that there is a single unified and homogeneous culture.  In fact, most of the university does not see or interact in any way with the rest (albeit pockets of interdisciplinary activity exist). This being the case, one suspects that the ‘answers’ from this project are very much context-specific (what ‘works’ for medicine might be quite different to that for Arts & Humanities, for example).

The issue of ‘light touch’ evidencing is problematic. The nature of the project is to actively introduce (promote/sustain) a (counter)culture of everyday creativity in King’s.  If we wade in with rigorous and overt research we will potentially kill the very thing being created.  We need to collect appropriate data without it interfering with the experiment. So – ideally, in every case where we are collecting data we need to make this intrinsic to the process in such a way that it is collected organically and without being imposed top-down.

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