Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Post PhD: New Research Topics.


As I am at the final stages of my PhD, I am starting to think about new areas for research. This is particularly important for me, as I want to be research active as a member of the Birmingham Centre for Media, Cultural and Research.

I started to articulate some potential ideas at the end of this blog post. Ideas which have emerged from my PhD research but which explore a narrow aspect of cultural entrepreneurship in the creative industries. I am specifically interested in women who work in the sector and investigating feminist literature such as the work of Rosalind Gill and Angela McRobbie. This has initiated an interest in agency and entrepreneurship and how that relates to female entrepreneurship. I discuss this in a post entitled Girl Power.

What is Entrepreneurship Studies?

I recently attended the Advancing European Tradition of Entrepreneurship Studies conference in Leeds. The key word here is advancing. The conference was useful for my research because it seeks to debate some of the questions raised by Daniel Hjorth & Chris Steyaert in their series of books & workshops New Movements in Entrepreneurship. Continue reading

Social-Constructionism and identity

identity-badgeIn my literature review I explore new movements in entrepreneurship research which has led me to investigate social constructionism. The work of Chell and Karatas-Ozkan in particular but also researchers exploring gender and entrepreneurship have made use of social constructionism. To help me understand the theory I have drawn on the work of Vivien Burr. Continue reading



Dont worry, my research has not led me to become a serial killer. Not yet anyway.

However, I have challenged myself to not lose my cool. To stay focused. And to try to be more disciplined in my professional work, including my research. Thanks partly to @PLongy.

Continue reading

What to Include in my Lit Review?

As I work my way through the literature, it is difficult to know where to stop.

The core elements are fairly clear. In my case, they include an overview of entrepreneurship theory, the cultural policy context and critical debates on cultural work.

It is really easy to feel overwhelmed. Each important contributor to the debate makes reference to so many other authors that I’m not sure what to follow-up or leave. For example, I have been re-reading McRobbie‘s important contribution to the critical debates on cultural entrepreneurship. Her research draws on Sennett and Beck to illustrate the potentially destructive impact of flexible and highly networked modes of work.

To what extent do I need to explore their work? Where do I stop?

My lit review plan


PhD planning & reflection

Undertaking research for a PhD can feel very unstructured. Often, you are left to your own devices for long periods of time – particularly when studying part-time as I do. So having to write reports for the GPC (Graduate Progress Committee) can be really useful. First of all because it gives me a deadline and secondly because it forces to reflect on my achievements to date and plan the next phase.

The last report I wrote was for my MPhil upgrade so I am assessing my progress since then. Here is an overview of my progress, a milestone plan and an assessment of the challenges ahead. Continue reading

Working on my ICCPR 2012 paper and trying to make sense of key themes

I was really pleased when my abstract was accepted for the annual ICCPR conference but now I’ve got to the write the paper! So having written the abstract and done most of my interviews I’m trying to make sense of the material. After a recent conversation with the ProfofPop I have started to visual the core elements of the research to becoming more focused. It works for me as a means of organising my thoughts but also to encourage me to be more creative and flexible. I have found that creativity and an open mind is important to the process of exploring the data and allowing for unusual or unexpected outcomes. Themes and concepts which might not appear in the general literature. As I am not testing an existing hypothesis but observing the lived experience of cultural entrepreneurs, it is important for me to simply see what emerges. I pull this together into a diagram. And I find that pen and paper works much better for me, somehow it is more immediate and I really dont want to grapple with some new software or an ipad app to do this.

So, I have got 3 section split into 3 subsection. 

1. Methodology

2. Context / lit review

3. Findings / themes


So I’ve started to pick out some key themes specifically for this paper. Below, I briefly explore issues relating to identity, the construction of a cultural entrepreneurs identity.

Doing interviews

With my fellow PhD’ers at the Centre for Cultural Policy, Warwick, I took part in a workshop to discuss methodologies for doing interviews, for collecting the data and a little bit about analysis. The session was quite practical and included discussing how to record a phone interview and other technical issues. We touched on ethics too – not too much though.

I was one of the case studies and I had prepared some raw material (everyone got excited about that) to listen to during the workshop. I created a closed posterous account and uploaded 1 -2 minute podcasts of segments from my interview recordings. This helped to illustrate specific issues / points made by the interviewees and how I might start interpreting that. A fellow student suggested it might be a good tool for manipulating the data, as part of the process of analysis. Like created audio quotes.

Some useful comments were made about observations one can make before, during and after the interview. Using the before and after in a self-reflexive way which might become useful for the methodology section, as a means of recalling the activity. This might include details of how I felt the interview went, if I felt I prompted the person too much / not enough. I also talked about recording the conversation before the interview really starts and continuing the recording while we finish off – just to capture those highly informal moments. As part of that discussion, I asked about how to handle bumping into the interviewees and the conversation starting again, outside of the formal interview. Obviously, people wont want to be recorded at random times but can I make notes and use this information to contextualise the original interview?



From ‘gentlemanly’ to professional social science research

In his book, Identities and Social Change in Britain since 1940, Mike Savage discusses the developments in research methods and how they are intrinsically linked to sociocultural change. What was once a ‘gentlemanly’ pursuit, becomes more bureaucratic. His approach is to take a historical perspective, enabling us to reflect on the context in which research methodologies emerge and on their impact. He explores the ‘messiness’ of the research process itself, when investigating social data collected in the 50’s and 60’s.

For me, this is interesting and helps me reflect on the methodological paradigm in which I am working. What will my research methods reveal about the context in which I operate? Can I find a way of reflecting on this when discussing my methodology? Can I make it part of the research rather than secondary to the data collected from interviewees.

for recent interviews, I have started to think about the activities surrounding the actual interview. The way I communicate, not the fact that it is by email, but the nature of the language used to discuss mundane things such as where we should meet, how we come to a decision and how we greet each other. On the whole, I am interviewing people I know and sometimes bump into in Birmingham. Occasionally, they pick up on a point we had discussed during the interview and start to elaborate on it – clearly having had the opportunity to reflect. What does this reveal and is it significant? We characterize the creative industries as being highly networked and relatively informal – is this reflected in my approach and my relationship to the sample? I am working with people I know.

When discussing the ’empirically minded social scientist’, Savage states:

‘This all involves a considerable research apparatus, one which does not sit above the social world but which is itself embedded in contemporary life. There is a curious blindness as to the footprint of the social sciences themselves.’

And he goes on to make a broader point:

‘I argue that many of our enduring preconceptions of identity need to be understood in terms of specific ways that they originated in the specific historical events of the 1950s and 1960s.’

He also draws my attention to the idea of exposing and ‘making visible, in social research as doomed to failure. Making the lives experience transparent, relies on excluding certain features. Savage is drawn to the work of Timothy Mitchell which is concerned with ‘locationless logic’. He also refers to Carolyn Steedman and her work on social identity which I have explored briefly. Steedman’s research on autobiography as a process introduced in UK education has relevance when exploring the narratives cultural entrepreneurs construct when being interviewed.

So what is my professional approach and context?