Porous, Fluid, and Brut Methodologies in (Post)qualitative Childhoodnature Inquiry

  • Mirka Koro-LjungbergEmail author
  • Marek TesarEmail author
  • Vicki Hargraves
  • Jorge Sandoval
  • Timothy Wells
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Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Since the 1980s, research practices used to investigate children and childhoods have experienced a philosophical upheaval, with challenges to traditionally designed research, invoking epistemological and ontological shifts. Both epistemological and ontological shifts have brought to attention the complexity and plurality of children and childhoods and highlighted its epistemologically unstable structures. In this chapter, we follow this trend to problematize the thinking in childhoodnature inquiry that perceives methodology as a set of fixed, controllable, foreseeable, neutral, and a-theoretical practices, which ultimately repeats and reproduces ontological and epistemological sameness. In resisting this status quo, we draw on post-qualitative scholarship, inspired by post-human theories of difference and relationality, who maintain ontological worldviews and methodological practices as fluid, dynamic, and unstable, founded within dimensions of uncertainty. In calling for divergent methodological practices in childhoodnature inquiry, we make connections between the foundational theories of Piaget to the innovative and radical work of Gilles Deleuze, suggesting such frameworks provide a leaky, yet productive, architecture for a rethinking of methodological practices. The notion of leaky architecture enables a rethinking of binary language to invite movement and relationality: between subjects and objects, children and adults, and theories and methods. This chapter ends with a call for porous, fluid, and brut methodological practices as a way to adhere to movements of the unrefined and leaky nature of childhood as well as methodology.


Childhoodnature Post-qualitative Piaget Deleuze 

Introduction: Beginning in the Middle

In this chapter we problematize methodological thinking in childhoodnature inquiry which is usually perceived as a set of fixed, controllable, foreseeable, neutral, and a-theoretical practices often aiming to repeat and reproduce onto-epistemological and conceptual sameness. Since the 1980s, methodologies researching children and childhoods have gone through philosophical upheaval, including ontological and research design-related developments. Both epistemological and ontological shifts have brought into attention a complexity and plurality of childhoods and highlighted its epistemologically instable structures. These shifts have also altered the ways in which children and childhoods are theorized, studied, and researched and have reconstituted childhoods as epistemologically instable structures.

Similarly, to children and childhoods, “nature” is a very complex notion. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to explore all the complexities associated with brutal, romanticized, and naïve versions of nature related to children and childhood, including the notion of urban/nature/childhoods (Duhn, Malone, & Tesar, 2017). Our “beginning in the middle” builds on the notion that there is nothing static about children and childhoods: these are continuously moving structures that highlight the “methodology of a subject” as decentered and children as part of shifting connections within/in/alongside nature, more-than-human assemblages, and fields of relations.

Our argument follows post-qualitative scholarship inspired by the ontologies of difference and relationality, where methodological thinking appears fluid, unstable, and with uncertain dimensions. Moreover, the various exciting contemporary research projects reflect how post-qualitative inquiry has embraced philosophy into methodological thinking and doing (see, e.g., Lather & St. Pierre, 2013). Furthermore, authors of this chapter are also involved with thinking and doing philosophy as a method (e.g., Koro-Ljungberg, Carlson, Tesar, & Anderson, 2015). Post-qualitative thinkers have also introduced concept as a method (Lenz Taguchi, 2016) and practices of thinking with theory (Jackson & Mazzei, 2012). Furthermore, conceptual and theoretical work “against the method” (see Law, 2004, 2006, Lather & Smith, 1997) already started some time ago, and this chapter continues and expands the anti-method critique by imagining methodologies-in-making, methodologies which might not carry the name of methodologies (see Koro-Ljungberg, 2016), and by revisioning how practices beyond the singularity of method could be (re)conceptualized and (un)practiced in the context of childhoodnature inquiry. Methodologies, as conceptualized in this chapter, are always methodologies-in-making in childhoodnature inquiry, inspired by various forms of critical/postmodernism standpoints and post-theories (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1

Fluidity 1

Post-human scholars, such as Braidotti (2013) and Barad (2007), have critiqued anthropocentric ethics and ontologies. Methodological practices as “post-moves” (e.g., movement toward postmodern, poststructural, post-colonial, and post-human inquiries), and…and…and ongoing material and relational reconceptualizations bring forward potential ways to challenge dominant, rigid, and close-ended research approaches. In particular, these methodological choices problematize the role of generalizable and objective scientific method and methodologies in the context of learning, education, and childhood studies. However, it is important to acknowledge that even though we use the notion of “methodology” in this chapter to engage with broader methodological discourses, we find this term and concept increasingly problematic, and as such we call for serious creative and practice-based departures and breaks with tradition. In such thinking, the methodological question is no longer how to study children and childhoods in separate, developmental, and individual contexts, but how children and childhoods are constituted and positioned in childhoodnature inquiry, how childhoodnature inquiry functions, and how children relate to the other in a continuously changing the world of relations, power, and more-than-human. Thus, research questions and study purposes look, feel, and taste different, once we seriously consider and do post-turns. Furthermore, methodological practices, traditionally employed in childhoodnature inquiry, are challenged through scholars’ reconceptualization of post-qualitative childhoodnature inquiry.

Our thinking in this chapter addresses and in many ways exemplifies ontological repositioning, repositioning that brings into the focus philosophy, relationality, complexity, and materiality. We discuss connections to relational ontologies that shape the enactment and production of philosophy as a method (see also Koro-Ljungberg et al., 2015). Relational ontologies bring theories to work and practices to theory constituting scholars, participants, and children as important parts of these relations, thus functioning as a continuously shifting process, transforming “method” and thought in the act (see also Manning & Massumi, 2014). Such a destabilizing and collective “method” uproots established humanistic (read human-centric) epistemologies and fixed anthropocentric ontologies covering a vast territory of thinking, relating, caring, and doing. We encourage readers to consider how theories enter practice of care, how thought in the act functions, how methodologies gain their relational traction, and how “thinking” and “doing” philosophy as a method shapes and is being shaped by relational ontologies, then and now, and what role post-humanism and new empiricisms play in these relations. We ask ourselves a question: how are methodologies and methods functioning in these relational spaces of childhoodnature inquiry?

After the post-qualitative and material turn in ontology, methodologies and methods can no longer be viewed as containers that clearly separate inside from outside, self from other, or method from intuition, philosophy, or creativity. Similarly, Manning (2013) writes about skin as a container, where we draw a parallel to methodological discourses. “What if the skin [methodologies] were a porous, topological surfacing of myriad potential strata that field the relation between different milieus, each of them a multiplicity of insides and outsides?” (pp. 1–2). These kinds of porous methodologies are collective and relational. As a result of relationality and endless actual and virtual connectivity, “methodological sums” are always more than their parts. Methodological foldings bring into appearance both the strata and the immanence of matter, content, form, substance, expressions, and creative forces. Instead of independent singularities, methodologies might function as dynamic forms and forces of relationality and worlding that refuse categorization (see also Manning, 2013). Through this premise, we relate childhoodnature to an assemblage of concepts following a line of thinking that especially draws from post-method movement, relationality, and “methodologies without methodologies” (Koro-Ljungberg, 2016). In this chapter we offer brut, fluid, porous methodologies as potential methodological forms and examples of uncertain processes of inquiring into difference, and…and…and inquiring into difference differently.

To disorient the reader (in the hope of generating alternative paths to think and practice childhoodnature methodologies differently) and offer closer proximity to our “structures without structure,” we have composed parts of this chapter as brute and unfinished relations and dialogical encounters between different discourses, voices, and perspectives. We share thoughts related to philosophy as a method and how thinking through a Piaget-Deleuze continuum or mobile space could assist us to reconsider methodological relations. We also carry on a conversation about the childhoodnature and relationality embedded in children nature spaces, places, and practices. Words, phrases, signs, images, and utterances in the middle serve as connectors, traces, and linkages between different thoughts and discourses. This way we also show how text and childhoodnature methodologies are productive and generative, yet they might resist generalizability, easy digestion, simplicity, and linear logic.

Childhoodnature Inquiry

From our perspective, philosophy as a method brings theory into the practice and ontologies into the research processes in different ways. For example, philosophy as a method represents a potential yet functional oxymoron and intriguing paradox forcing readers and users of methodology to give up their potentially fixed and overly normative uses and definitions of a “method.” Philosophy as a method challenges existing practices and theories by connecting to other circuits, embodying critical questioning, and potentially pointing to the paradoxes and limitations of our current schemas and conceptualizations. Philosophy as a method embraces thinking and the epistemological, ontological, and ethical relationship with a thought (Fig. 2)
Fig. 2

Fluidity 2

It is possible that the diversity of post-qualitative inquiry proves the flexibility and plasticity of the research design within which it counts as research. Furthermore, thinking with and about thought and conceptualizing philosophy as a method could lead qualitative inquiry toward, but also beyond, the unthinkable. Thinking the unthinkable (alongside, with, or through philosophy) refers to the undoing of research design and categories, assumptions, and models. Conceptual and theoretical hybrids, leaps, arrests, and slips produce methodological surprises, which may enable the creation of methodologies which might mimic the creation of concepts (see Deleuze, 1991). When philosophy is brought into a method and/or seen as a method, method can no longer be treated as an objective set of procedures, automated activity, or a predetermined, single, and simplified task. Instead, philosophies create conceptual movement, critical questioning, and diversity in a thought-in-the-act where thinking and doing blend and interact continuously and seamlessly with the “other.” In this sense, Law (2004) argues that method is about a way of being and the type of science (about ontological decisions) it chooses to practice. Method is not only reflective of ontology, but it ontologizes, and it reinforces ways of being and thinking. Therefore, we encourage the reader to think about slow methods, vulnerable methods, modest methods, and silent and silenced methods and explore experimental diversions from what would normally be thought (Fig. 3). And.
Fig. 3

Fluidity 3

Methodological studies about children and childhoods perform the role where child as a human subject forms a center of an injury. As we have argued above, the focus or parameter of inquiry and knowledge in childhood research has changed throughout the years. First, the focus shifted from researching on a child to researching with a child and by a child. The recent methodological thinking challenges the role of human subject (including a child) on an ontological pedestal. And as such, a child’s role and functioning in the world, agency, and independency and so on have been continuously reconceptualized, moving from children being objects of inquiry to be measured, observed, and hypothesized about (through objectivism, positivism, and other ideologies) toward children as relational subjects, becoming intra-active elements of inquiry (through post-inquiries). Through these methodological lenses, children are perceived as capable of creating their own interview data, talk, materials, and artifacts (see subjectivism, interpretivisms), but also, as per the theory argued above, children are too being conceptualized as a part of intra-active assemblages, constituted in more-than-human relations (postmodernisms, new materialism). These shifts and transformations have also influenced how knowledge, scholarship, and methods have been conceptualized and carried out in relation to children and their worlds. We argue that as thinkers shift and reconceptualize the role of the child (e.g., in relation to more-than-human world), methodologies and methods also need to be rethought and reconceptualized. It is for the scholars of today’s post-human and more-than-human world to take on this challenge to move beyond stable, fixed, objective, or even subjective methodological thinking and imagine methodologies that are possibly porous, fluid, and brut.

Porous, fluid, and brut methodologies can be traced through the ontological turn, which educational researchers recently have extended to childhood and children. We are exploring such ontological positionings of children and their childhoods. We can also see traces of porous, fluid, and brut methodologies: studies that address issues as diverse as policy documents on the rights of children (Dahlbeck, 2014a), children’s movement and play (Land & Danis, 2016; Rautio & Winston, 2015), and the sounds and listening practices in early childhood classrooms (Schulte, 2016). These studies critique not only notions of childhood subjectivity but also stable and inert conceptions of material and ontological reality. For instance, Dahlbeck (2014a) found in the Swedish declaration of children’s rights assumptions of child subjectivity based on universal essences and forms without a consideration of the relational production of childhood being. Such an understanding limits the role of ethics, or even that of a teacher, to “developmentally appropriate” behavior as opposed to attending to the facilitation of social encounters and events (p. 538). This methodological lens forms one response to concerns surrounding the limitations of universal child subjectivity. Thus, researchers have shifted their focus from stable object-subject interactions to the examination of classroom events and their material productions. Both Land and Danis (2016) and Rautio and Winston (2015) consider the events of movement and play not as a means to an end but as an end in itself, suggesting that such activities (movement and play) afford space for contradictory and critical ways of knowing and being in the world (Rautio & Winston, 2015). Through new ontologies and nontraditional methodologies, authors hope to get teachers and curriculum developers to think away from best practice and outcome-oriented pedagogies toward the relational and spatial makeup of classrooms and how interactions produce different classroom environments.

Childhoodnature inquiry is both an attractive concept in which children are positioned and a potential binary as well. It depends which methodological lens, and what methodological choice, we decide to make. For example, working against environmental and geographical borders, clear distinctions between urban and rural, organic and toxic, manufactured or “wild natural” child, and so on, we propose porous, fluid, and brut ways to not only constitute child in childhoodnature relations and inquiry but also in particular rethink methodologies inquiring into this relationality. Childhoodnature relations are never singular or a one-directional position where a child is situated within as essentialized binary of a “natural human-produced (read urban)” contexts. Rather childhoodnature relationality is more complex, multidirectional, always plural, and multiple in action and process.

Piaget Connections

Returning to the beginning in the middle, Piaget’s philosophy of a child dominated childhoodnature inquiry, and its ruins are still seminal in the contemporary methodology. In this methodology lies ontological and epistemological assumptions, and for many post-qualitative researchers, “method” is affected and affective. From this perspective, a method, born of ontology, is affected by ontology, so that methods always presuppose ontology. Affective method works within its ontological assumptions. Methodology as ontology cannot preexist or be separated out from research practices and thinking-doing (see also Higgins, Madden, Berard, Lenz Kothe, & Nordstrom, 2017). Method, like subject, is without an in-itself and never comes to the event fully formed but is formed in counterpoint with it (Manning, 2013). Even the structuralism of Piaget recognizes a complex, coevolving fluidity that is ontologically prior but is then organized and structured by a human brain which can transcend it. Method tames, segments the world into identities, and places identities into relation. This method, or “science,” then:

will permit [man] to understand and find his way … science, which is one of the most beautiful adaptations of the human spirit and a victory of the mind over the material world…Now, how has it succeeded? Not by accumulating knowledge or experience … It is in constructing an intellectual tool of coordination, thanks to which the mind has been able to put facts in relation to each other. (Piaget, 1948/1973, p. 135)

The fluidity of relational experience cannot be merely accumulated but also must be coordinated. Coordination could be seen as a method itself, and it results in structure, however, preliminary and transient. Deleuze (1990), however, aims to maintain the fluidity of difference as an ontological principle and invent methods which preserve the chaos and complexity of ceaseless interconnections, rather than organization. For Deleuze, the methods that create the identity of form must be undone, leaving only a difference that is intensive within a univocal life force, a differing of degrees of intensity within one form rather than a multitude of different, separable, forms (Deleuze, 1990). Matter, then, does not consist of finite forms; with univocity, everything exists as “a moment of an infinite concept which encompasses everything” (Somers-Hall, 2013, p. 44). In order to be generative and creative, method might not be constricted by processes of representation, subjectification, and signification which may reduce its spheres of potential. Instead, from this perspective, methodologies create an immanent plane in which many things and bodies are implicated, swirling, merging, and coming in and out of focus, without the containment of determination of any kind. The particularities of a method serve only for “prolonging the thought-path of movement” (Massumi, 2002, p. 12). In this case, linear method stutters and fails and becomes “fraught with connections, movement and becomings” (Myers, 2015, p. 59) rather than functioning as predictable, tidy, and controlled.

What happens when we insert the thoughts and writings of Deleuze, and Deleuze and Guattari, into Piagetian epistemology? Piaget assumes relationality to be a product, or method, of man, hierarchically positioned, and not an inherent feature of a universe endlessly becoming. For Deleuze and Guattari, Piaget’s account might bind us to the strata of:

the organism, significance and interpretation, and subjectification and subjection [which] separates us from the … abstract machine, where there is no longer any regime of signs, where the line of flight effectuates its own potential positivity and deterritorialization its absolute power. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980/1987, p. 155)

Piaget’s structuralism is a method in which man acts upon the world, noting the effect of his actions and using this information to construct a model of the world. Structures have their origin in man’s schemes of action, “no knowledge is based on perceptions alone, for these are always directed and accompanied by schemes of action” (Piaget, 1981b, pp. 23–24). Thus, there is a process of “‘assimilation’ of objects to the schemes of that subject [with] a necessary ‘adaptation’ to the particularities of these objects” (Piaget, 1981b, p. 24). Objects become represented to be incorporated into a hierarchy of humanist representation.

Deleuze and Guattari might ask about the potential of becoming that stands between the observation and its assimilation into the framework. They might ask about the potential of becoming outside of human thought; different ways to address a gap or interval in which something might escape, where something of their ontological fluidity might leak out. Piaget did not present a notion of a fixed form of development, and in this, his refusal to be tied down to a particular teleological organization appears another leak, another spark of potential to cross the gap between fluidity and form:

the internal evolution of a person (according to the aptitudes of each one) only provides merely a certain amount of rough outlines that are capable of being developed, destroyed, or left in an untouched state. But these are only rough outlines, and only social and educational interactions will transform them into efficient behavioral patterns or destroy them totally. (Piaget, 1948/1973, p. 55)

Might such total destruction suit Deleuze’s purpose as a method that frees a fluidity of becoming? Might destruction here be generative? “In dismantling the organism there are times one courts death, in slipping away from significance and subjection one courts falsehood, illusion and hallucination and psychic death” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980/1987, p. 186).

For Piaget:

behavior [is] conceived not … as a product of external ‘circumstances,’ but as the expression of a constant need for overtaking (extension of the environment and increase of the organism’s powers) [that] would constitute in fact the principal moving force of evolution. (Piaget, 1981a, p. 280)

A continuing structuralism. Deleuze too might argue that there are never outcomes such as products, but only becoming, only the endless generativity of the assemblage, connecting a-signifying signs and making them content and expression for a myriad of functions. “That which triggers off an affect, that which effectuates a power to be affected, … a signal: the web stirs, the scalp creases, a little skin is bared … Spider-becoming, flea-becoming, tick-becoming, an unknown, resilient, obscure, stubborn life” (Deleuze & Parnet, 1977/2007, p. 61).

Responsibility Before

Piaget saw the chaos and complexity that informed the child’s world, but in his constructionism, he posited child or man as structuring that content, as placing upon it a perspective that shaped that content. Piaget effectively attempted to describe man’s method for making sense of the world, man’s habits of perception which became then man’s habits of understanding the world and which then limit his interactions with the world. In the construction of method as in the construction of a concept, there is always and already a perspective. Concepts and methods both “cut up and combine the things corresponding to them in various and always new ways” (Deleuze, 2004/2006, p. 325). An experimentation with signs seen as forces rather than signifiers moves research away from reified sign regimes “congealed in thought through habit” (Roy, 2003, p. 15) and toward new potentials in affect. This requires the suspension of “categorisation and comprehension of the other” (Bogue, 2007, p. 13), and instead an openness to the virtual potential explored through experimenting with the affective signs of the other. What method for such an engagement?

Manning (2013) suggests a “responsibility before” (p. 72) which is an engagement with the virtual plane preformation, the porous throbbing of chaotic potentiality. Responsibility before means that we have not already positioned ourselves (Manning, 2013) but are open to creativity and experimentation, the potentialities of life that are not already concrete in “this life.” Rather than an overarching structure which makes sense of and categorizes the world to facilitate man’s further action upon it, what might take place are “contracts between individual bodies” (Dahlbeck, 2014b, p. 20) that are real and productive. Dahlbeck (2014b) argues for such interconnections as a “pure ontology” (p. 8) based on relations with the real, rather than the abstract, based on the fluid openness of an experimentation with ontology and with methodology that post-human sensibilities engender.

Deleuze Connections

We have argued for new ontology of a child and childhoods in a childhoodnature inquiry. What about nature? In philosophy, nature is not merely a mirror of reality, a dichotomous relationship, such as a reflection of art is of life. As Deleuze describes, life does not imitate art but rather is intertwined with nature, like roots of a tree that intercept and weave in and out creating. Nature is a place where, “roots are taproots with a more multiple, lateral, and circular system of ramification, rather than a dichotomous one” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 254). Nature becomes a method of creation, where thought lags behind, in the interweaving leads of roots creating “biunivocal” relationships. A non-binary relationship of multiplicities is being created in a “radicle system,” where natural reality separates from a principal root, thus creating multiplicities of secondary roots undergoing a flourishing development (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987). “Because natural history is concerned primarily with the sum and value of differences, it can conceive of progressions and regressions, continuities and major breaks” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 235) Similarly, Spinoza describes nature as a large abstract machine with its pieces being the various assemblages and individuals, creating groupings of particles, infinitely enmeshed within an infinity of relations, the whole of nature being a multiplicity of individuated multiplicities.

Conclusion: Leaky Childhoodnature Methodogies

We think differently with childhoodnature inquiry. Transferring thinking into methodological discourses, childhoodnature methodologies are always also unfinished, plural, and shifting. Furthermore, we argue that porous, fluid, and brut methodologies exemplify leaky architecture of post-qualitative research. They all speak to different dimensions of this methodological leakiness yet supporting the movement, transformation, and relationality within methodological practices. Instant, immanent, and continuously shifting multiplicities of methodologies, minor parts, and molecular processes are never a part of comprehensive, bigger, and holistic “whole,” but they become possible when brut events happen and raw elements are wedded and pasted together ad infinitum. Dislodged structures, abolished and redone methods, forgotten strategies, undone theories, and dispersion of concepts inspire much methodological thinking of here and today. Elsewhere (Koro-Ljungberg et al., 2015), we have discussed qualitative inquiry and methodology brut, naïve, raw, and unfinished. Methodology brut and methodological undoings which question taken-for-granted methodological practices often evolve through relationality, plurality, and connectivity when scholars reach out to others for ideas, thoughts, and philosophies to support the reversal of the injustices of earlier research practices and traditions.

In educational research, the term porous is used synonymously with permeability. It is the movement across a border or boundary. At times, porosity is used to describe a limitation of essentialized concepts: “[o]f particular significance and importance are critical explorations of the porous border between often essentialized and essentializing categories of ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed,’ as well as empowerment and disempowerment” (Higgins, 2016, p. 675). At other times it is used to describe the workings of institutions beyond its supposed boundaries: “The institutional boundaries within a carceral state are purposefully porous” (Annamma, 2016, p. 1211). Its methodological uses are even less frequent yet still centered around permeability and movement. For instance, Reinertsen (2016) describes the porous nature of thought, writing, and language, implying the limitations of definite linguistic categories. As a methodological category, the notion of porous is largely undeveloped. However, porous inquiry practices are not new, and scholars have referred to hybridity, cyclic nature of qualitative inquiry, and blended designs (see, e.g., McKechnie, 2008; Saldaña, 2015). More specifically, the porous element of methodology illustrates the infiltration of ideas and traditions, blending of (intellectual) matter across labels and categories. Porous methodologies morph different components (e.g., of methods, data, representation, writing) into something different, and the ideas, authors, texts, authorities, and practices bleed into each other. Observations of children have elements of think-aloud methodologies, open-ended focus groups are carried out in creative outdoor spaces including elements of performance, and discourse analysis process utilizes some aspect, connections, and elements from visual analysis. The notion of porous methodologies focuses our attention to the absence of clear and distinctive methodological boundaries as well as impossibility of solid singular methods and research elements. Research design, data, and knowing subjects can no longer be assumed to constitute one agentic and fixed entity, but they multiply and shift constructing only evaporating, resonating, porous, accommodating, and temporary proxies, events, and organic forms of living and doing.

Fluidity, in turn, speaks to the continuous exchange, methodological movement, and transformational forces in inquiry. The use of fluidity in educational research most regularly refers to changeability in relation to the identity question. For example, fluidity is regularly deployed to indicate how gender identity (Sweet & Carlson, 2017), teacher identity (Bradley, 2016; Cuconato & Walther, 2015), or student identity (Hsiung, 2016; Malcolm & Mendoza, 2014) can change based on situation and context. Similarly, researchers use fluidity to describe changeable perspectives or paradigms of thought (Brunial, 2016; Kuby & Christ, 2017; Wolgemuth, 2016). In these contexts, non-fluid thought processes are troubled, seen as limiting, whereas, fluid thought processes afford flexibility and creativity. Less frequently is the notion of fluidity applied in relation to ontologies and material worlds. When researchers use fluidity in this light, it often refers to the complexity of the lived world and the difficultly of capturing singular representations (Walsh & Tsilimpounidi, 2016). Likewise, this use of fluidity might signify “the ontological dynamism of beings” and make explicit reference to material temporality (Nakagawa & Payne, 2015). Here, meaning is considered temporal and always open to change. The use of fluidity in educational research is quite frequent but largely limited to the analysis of data and not considered in relation to methodological processes. In this context we use fluidity slightly differently. For us, “methods” do not begin or end in a foreseen and predictable “order,” but they are already always here and working, forming incomplete connections and shifting research approaches without absolute identities or nonidentities. Methods and methodologies are functioning as temporary leaky structures that are being regenerated, reconstructed, and rebuilt again and again differently in each context and time-space-matter. Following this line of thought, methodological flows, tools, approaches, and techniques do not collapse, fail, or disappoint. Instead, they melt, transform, circumvent, infiltrate, appear, and disappear while opening up new directions for childhoodnature relations. Interview events end with an exploration of material cultures which lead scholars back to new interview questions, while visual representations gradually turn into the investigation of historical and archival materials. Fluidity illustrates how one method or methodology transforms and shifts into another moving horizontally and potentially unpredictable ways.

Lastly, brutness informs the users of research that methodologies are always raw, unfinished, partial, and never able to capture realities and experiences in some complete or finished fashion. Within the last few years, uses of the term brut in educational research have increased steadily. The term indicates something base, raw, or animalistic. It has been used to describe cruel and unpleasant experiences (McLaren & Pinkney-Pastrana, 2000), as well as an unreasoning and unreasonable force (Swanger, 2002), but recently it has been most frequently used in relation to methods and data (Koro-Ljungberg et al., 2015; Martin & Kamberelis, 2013; St. Pierre, 2013). In relation to data, for some scholars, brut encompasses the baseness and rawness – “solid bedrock, building blocks” (St. Pierre, 2013, p. 224) – of an object but has largely been critiqued as something unattainable. Alternatively, its methodological uses have shifted away from clearly defined procedures to get at a clearly defined, essential, brut object toward brutness as an always-already-there “rawness” and particularity of events, things, and processes. Sometimes brutness is used to illustrate partial and becoming process in flux and in motion, “[an] uncertainty, rawness, and creative chaos by doing, engaging, collaborating, and reflecting without constant and continuous purification and ‘cleaning’ efforts” (Koro-Ljungberg et al., 2015, p. 614). The use of brut in qualitative and educational research is burgeoning yet encapsulates larger trends of methodological practices that include fluidity and porosity.

Furthermore, brutness in methodology enables scholars to face uncertainty, rawness, and creative chaos by doing, engaging, collaborating, and reflecting without constant and continuous validation and verification efforts. Brutness also reminds us that qualitative inquiry, future/past, methods, and philosophies are potentially not entities to be clearly, neatly, and holistically described, practiced, or understood. In raw partiality, everything is possible, but not everything is. Maybe there will be or already is a multiplicity of methodologies and childrennature relations without totality. Instead, raw events happen, and unfinished elements are wedded and pasted together ad infinitum. Dislodged structures, abolished and redone methods, forgotten strategies, undone theories, and dispersion of concepts take place and produce unthinkable and absent present-future and childhoodnature relations and methodologies brut, naïve, raw, and unfinished and leaky.


Leaky architecture of post-qualitative inquiry positions childhoodnature methodologies as thought-out arrangements with unknown number of loose, becoming relations, and elements that are open to difference and otherness. However, any perceived structural element is only illusive or at least unstable and ambiguous. Its position is held only by its (generative and always shifting) relations of difference to other parts. This ambiguity of leaky architecture enables paradoxical thinking, contradictory practices, and organic formations. Leaky architecture of research design and inquiry could function as a thinking tool and thought-in-the-act practice to process and live through our scholarly activities, methods, and forms in less fixed and certain ways. Rather than thinking about methods and methodologies as learnable and understandable containers, leaky architecture utilizes form, lines, space, matter, and interrelatedness as elements to think about unexpected, surprising, and continuously shifting design with. In this context a leaky structure in methodology enables us to bring together porosity, fluidity, and brutness in the context of shifting perceptions, practices, and enactments of childhoodnature and its research.

For Frank Lloyd Wright (1971), organic denotes entity and relationality, ongoing, fluid relationship between whole and its parts. Organic architecture occupies spaces which are continuously becoming and which through all rhythms must pass. Similar to The Leaky Architecture of Beehives and Boxes performance where deconstruction is carried out through staging choices, leaky architecture in methodology enables the rethinking of binary dualism and binary language. Leaky architecture of methodology can position methods and research approaches simultaneously as organic and healthy and as manufactured and toxic. Leaky architecture sustains a paradox and produces seeds of deconstruction. One might argue that leaky architecture is no architecture or represents a failed design due to its insufficiencies, holes, absences, and unstable structures. Yet leaky architecture exemplifies becoming and openness to “other,” other elements, potentially contradictory ideas, and multidirectional forces. This openness creates a welcoming space and a structure which calls for (and also relies on) patches, fixes, repainting, refilling, and remodeling. The leaky architecture of post-qualitative research design accommodates and invites differences in childhoodnature concept and practice, aporia of spatial childhoodnature spatiality, and the impossible thinking of childhoodnature subject-objects.



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

Section editors and affiliations

  • Paul Hart
    • 1
  • Phillip Payne
    • 2
  1. 1.Science EducationUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada
  2. 2.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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