Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A response to: Haseman, Brad (2006) A Manifesto for Performative Research. Media International Australia ncorporating Culture and Policy, theme issue "Practice-led Research"(no. 118) pp. 98-106. Copyright 2006 Brad C. Haseman

Haseman states that we are at a pivotal moment in the development of research and shows that qualitative and quantitative research methodologies frame the excepted agendas of research generally carried out. He outlines the fact that quantitative research embraces a scientific approach, it's aim to eliminate the individual perspective of the researcher. This area of research more often deals with numerical data.

When looking at qualitative research Haseman says that it operates quite differently seeking to understand the meaning of human action, behaviours and responses as constructed by quantitative texts. The implication here potentially being that a qualitative text allows the researcher to look on subjectively and that text allows for the ‘nuances of behavioural response’. A focus for this form of research may well be seen as an ‘object of study’ and not a method of research.

Qualitative research therefore has a focus on understanding context, because the research is a practice based enterprise and therefore a uniqueness or an original contribution rather than an ‘architectural discipline’. The researchers approach maybe to identify agenda, this being a goal in the first instance, may not be defined and therefore its identity could be shifting.

Haseman states in his paper that the traditional way of writing your qualitative research may potentially be a restrictive outcome. He argues that there should be a push to present research through a practical outcome, something not screened by the use of text. He says the strategies are known as performance as research, research through practice and practice led research. The outcome for this practice led research seems broad and by its nature be undefined in the first instance, it's specificity might find in its final form. He says that practice led research is 'intrinsically experimental'.

Haseman also underlines that the traditional way of setting up a research program may not be compatible with how practice led researchers operate. As a matter of course applicants are expected to clearly define questions and the research problem so they can fit their proposal into an excepted framework. The practitioner of the practice led research could be viewed as very different and might be described as someone who has enthusiasm or individual tendencies that are specific to them and cannot be categorised or the evolution of their ideas predicted.

Also the way in which research is presented could be contradictory to its outcome based upon an interpretation through numbers or text. In a sense some of practice led research findings could be lost through these traditional presentation methods.

But much of what is practice led research is still classified under the qualitative research umbrella. There are fears that as the field of practice led research expands that the definition of qualitative research becomes blurred, that it jeopardises some of the foundations to this field and in a sense undermines the traditional approach to qualitative research. For this reason there is some resistance to how this field is evolving.

Haussmann presents performative research as a potential third classification of research. He describes it as a multidisciplinary method led by practice and 'expressed in non-numeric data but in forms of symbolic data other than words in discursive text these include two forms of practice of steel and moving images of music and sound of live action and digital code.'

He argues that the practice is an all-important representation of the research in its own right, the physical performance and interpretation of the researchers’ data. But Haseman also states that performative research cannot be entirely separate from quantitative research because they share many principal orientations. That recognising this third paradigm will help ease some of the tension among the concerned qualitative researchers.

Towards the end of his paper Haseman talks about the process of auditing practice based research as a way of capturing the whole context of the presented research. The indication being that when a research performance is presented the significance is fully realised. It's these types of approaches which could help give credibility to a performance based research or practice led research.

One thing that really stands out in the paper is that the definition or understanding of qualitative research is changing, but need not be distorted if performative research gains ground. That this opportunity to redefine a traditional form of research will reveal or expose exciting new work in practice led research, helping challenge narrow perceptions art and how valuable the practice of it is within our modern society.