The online journal Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS) published a Special Issue on Performative Social Science highlighting experimental pieces that use different kinds of digital and written contributions which move this publication beyond the normal constraints and layouts of paper-based journals. The special edition was edited by Dr Kip Jones from BU’s Centre for Qualitative Research, and consists of more than 42 articles with co-editors from five countries.
“Performative,” in the widest sense of the word, has become a “working title” for the efforts of social science researchers who are exploring the use of tools from the arts in research itself and/or using them to enhance, or move beyond, PowerPoint conference presentations or traditional journal submissions in their dissemination efforts. Those engaging in this new “performative social science” are often shifting existing boundaries or transforming them through relational processes.
Jones, Reader in Qualitative Research, has recently been given a cross-schools appointment by the School of Health and Social Care and the Media School. He believes that ‘when we move to the performative, as researchers, we cede “control” of interpretation of our work to our audience. This is the singularly most important shift in social science practice that Performative Social Science makes. The researcher becomes a gatherer, a facilitator, a curator, a Wizard of Oz. Text becomes only one tool within a toolbox of many instruments’. Jones is Leader of BU’s cross-schools Performative Social Science Group and Associate Book Review Editor for FQS.
The FQS Special Issue contains over 100 photographs and almost 50 illustrations, as well as 36 videos and two audio-recordings. Diverse textual forms of representation include over 50 poems, three scripted conversations and a play. This Special Issue showcases an impressive range of methods, techniques and philosophical underpinnings. Jones collaborated with PhD candidate, Zoe Fitzgerald-Pool, who created an animated “masthead” lasting one minute, 27 seconds as an introductory graphic to the Special Issue. This animation represents the shift to arts-based approaches by social scientists and the plethora of possibilities that exist within this expanded toolbox.
FQS is a peer-reviewed multilingual online journal for qualitative research, established in 1999. FQS Issues are published tri-annually. The main aim of FQS is to promote discussion and cooperation among qualitative researchers from different countries and social science disciplines. The unique attributes of the Internet—speed, flexibility, interactivity—are employed to develop, in comparison to traditional print media, new discourse forms and standards for quality.