Independent scholar, cat addict, tattoo lover

Many have grown accustomed to the idea that academe is the sole source of significant scholarship. When it comes to knowledge about the social, society is still largely unheard. [campus]OrléoN is a campus of independent researchers who want to change this monopoly. ‘The public’ is not silent nor ignorant. Therefore, the divide between public and private sociology can be challenged, with consequences for public decision making and democratic arrangements in knowledge creation. The public has research capacities that this campus wants to bring out. To do so, we are developing swarm research as a methodology. In this paper I describe the four principles that underpin it. First, it is narrative. We use events and the stories we collect there as our data and input to create meso stories that give the events their logic. In turn, our meso stories focus our attention to relevant events. Second, it is networked. We collaborate in the swarm as a learning environment in which we invite others to participate. Third, we assume complexity and look for patterns that help us, part of these patterns, to make sense of what is happening. Fourth, we deconstruct the event and its context, deliberately seeking a breakdown of the normal to open up new perspectives and reach new insights. Bricolage as methodological negotiation is pivotal. With swarm research, we not only develop knowledge about the social, but also about the methodologies with which we research the social. With this, we offer a model for counterexpertise in researching publics.

Key words: Swarm research, bricolage, researching publics, narrative, network, complexity, deconstruction.

This paper has been accepted for the BSA Annual Conference 2014 of the British Sociological Association with the special theme Changing Society. You can download the full paper here.