Joe Kincheloe's Critical Complex Epistemology/Pedagogy & Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage

Chapter 3. The Research Process

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The Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage
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Bricolage Research Dissertation
On to the 11th Dimension
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Critical Science of Complexity
About Us & Our Mission


Paradis, V. J. (2013). Did Joe Lyons Kincheloe Discover the Golden Chalice for Knowledge Production? The Application of Critical Complex Epistemology and the Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage. (Doctoral Dissertation)




Process-sensitive scholars watch the world flow by like a river, where the

exact contents of the water are never the same.  (Kincheloe 2005a p. 333)



Researcher Positioning

All research is influenced by paradigmatic thinking, assumptions, presuppositions, research positioning, and interrelationships between the researcher and object of the research. This is readily understood by the explanation at the quantum level of how simply observing particles will alter how they behave. There is a symbiotic, interconnected relationship between the researcher and the researched. For these reasons, it is important that the bricoleur clearly positions herself within the research effort. Thus, I will state my personal relationship to this research up front and clarify this relationship throughout this research (Kincheloe, 2001a, 2005a, 2008c; Kincheloe & Berry, 2004). 

Relationship to Joe Kincheloe

Before he tragically passed away on December 19, 2008, I had worked with Joe Kincheloe, a critical theorist, on his research web site for seven months. Prior to connecting with him serendipitously, I had read one book he had edited with Peter McLaren, Critical Pedagogy: Where Are We Now? (Kincheloe & McLaren, 2007), in which he had written the introductory chapter. Soon after that, I was reading articles on McLaren’s web site and noticed a link to a “Freire” Project site which turned out to be a newly launching online community of practice made up of educators, researchers, teachers, and students. I was surprised to discover that Kincheloe was head of the project and I was able to interact with him and, ultimately, meet him in person. He went by “Joe,” on the site, and I realized he had co-edited the book I had just bought. Other than that one introductory article, which I had found exceedingly difficult to read, I had not read any of his work, but soon delved into reading some articles he had posted on the website. I was enormously impressed with his work, even though at the time I had been primarily interested in the work of Peter McLaren, another critical theorist. I found Joe amazingly gracious, loving, and responsive, “too good to be true,” but as it turned out, he was true. As I learned more about the web project and more about his work, and as I interacted with him, I knew I had to try out his formulation of the bricolage for my dissertation. Ultimately, Joe and I were the most active participants on the site because we both loved the ongoing dialogue (“dialogic dancing”) and could see its power for moving educational research forward at a more rapid pace and in a way that would incorporate all voices. There was promise that this approach could confront complexity in an active, evolving manner to address educational issues and with the full and active engagement of all participants.

After reading a couple of his articles he had posted to the site I discovered that his philosophy, which was a holistic worldview incorporating complexity theory, aligned with, clarified, and greatly expanded my own philosophy, and his brilliant work provided the missing pieces I had been seeking for a more multi/interdisciplinary and rigorous approach to education, which I strongly believe is the direction education needs to head. I was amazed with his formulation of an evolving criticality that incorporated complexity theory and I was very interested in how it might work to resolve some of the major injustices in the world while providing a more rigorous, more interesting, and a more caring education. As I read more of his work, I became intimately familiar with what I believe he was trying to accomplish (his “dream” as I refer to it) and I grew to support his mission wholeheartedly; his dream truly became my dream.  I was so passionate and, by some accounts, “obsessed” with contributing to his project that I was even tagged by some participants as being an “Eager Beaver Critical Pedagogue.” I found this enormously funny, given I was not expecting anything whatsoever out of my contributions. That phrase continues to come back in some hilariously funny ways. It’s always good to keep a sense of humor when dealing with the “psychologically debilitating” (as Joe framed it) educational world. But the strangest thing about the entire time I worked with Joe, I felt that something was wrong; I felt that our time working together was very, very limited; I kept having a horrible premonition, subconsciously at first, but then it surfaced to my conscious awareness—that he was not going to live long. He had somehow totally tuned into my concerns and frequently sent me emails in an obvious attempt to alleviate my anxiety, even sending me one from the hospital when he had a routine follow up check-up after having received skin cancer treatments to let me know he was fine. Everything was great and he had a new blog to post to the site, he had informed me. To my devastation, my premonitions and worries proved to be true, and while he was on vacation in Jamaica during the holiday season just before Christmas in 2008, he suffered a fatal heart attack. I was totally and permanently devastated. I immediately withdrew from the project because I knew without him it would never be what it could have been. I was intuitively cognizant of some serious sociopolitical issues with the project and without Joe there, in my assessment they would not be resolved in a manner that would allow the project to move forward in the way he had conceived. I have recently learned that due to those issues, he had planned on leaving the project and the university anyway, and he was going to look for work somewhere else.

An “Eager Beaver Critical Pedagogue”

As I described, I loved the learning and discourse so much, believed in Joe’s mission, and felt so honored to have the opportunity he had provided, that aside from Joe I was the most active participant, interacting with everyone on the site. I later learned I had been given the tag, “Eager Beaver Critical Pedagogue” by some of those educators who do not understand how one can become impassioned with learning for no other purpose than to learn and work toward social justice. This was disappointing since it represents an air of elitism and hypocrisy on the part of whoever tagged me, considering these were a group of critical pedagogues who advocate against “deficit labeling” and were working for a social justice that would eliminate elitism toward people who are of lower class standing, as I am.

And so, now we have a never-ending joke about Eager Beavers from the cosmos, which is especially appropriate considering I am from Oregon, the Beaver state, and I graduated from Oregon State University, home of the OSU Beavers. The beaver pops up frequently in my life, a gift from that magical messenger, “Hermes,” and one that I always find humorous. For example, I encountered the Eager Beaver Second Hand Store on a special divinely orchestrated “treasure hunt” at the beach. As soon as I walked inside the store, the song “It’s all right, have a good time” by the Impressions began playing to let me know I was in the right place at the right time. A book sitting right out on the counter caught my immediate attention. It was a home improvement book, written by Ty Pennington (2003). I could not miss the word “Tricks” in bold red print resting at the top of Ty’s sleeve on the front cover (“tricks up the sleeves” was a special “clue” handed to me from “Hermes” before I had embarked on this treasure hunt). There was no doubt in my mind that the book was a special gift, a treasure, from Hermes. I simply had no choice but to pay the two dollars for it so that I could take it home. When I got home and opened the book, even more hilarious, there was an Eager Beaver home improvement test inside, titled “Beaver Realization Evaluation.” As the test revealed, an “Eager Beaver” is confident in their home improvement abilities.  I am terrible at home improvements and even books and the right tools do not help me. So, to set the record straight, I do not consider myself an “Eager Beaver Critical Pedagogue.” And I prefer the new language that Kincheloe invented in his last works: I am a “critical complex epistemologist” and a “multidimensional critical complex bricoleur.” Maybe someday critical complexity and multidimensionality will be taken for granted and no longer need to be patently specified.

At this point I am thankful that I was that “Eager Beaver Critical Pedagogue” who devoted so much time to Joe Kincheloe’s research site, writing blogs and engaging in dialogue with many interesting people. Mostly I am thankful that I was blessed with having had the opportunity to work with Joe, one of the most brilliant and amazing people I have ever known. I am forever indebted to him for the amount of time he spent helping me understand his bricolage and for his delightful conversations. He was, and still is a true Master Teacher.

During one of our many conversations about his research bricolage, he gave me a reading assignment from a chapter he wrote in the book he published with Kathleen Berry, Rigour and Complexity in Educational Research: Conceptualizing the Bricolage (Kincheloe & Berry, 2004). I believed at the time, and still do to this day, that it was a very special excerpt that he wanted to ensure did not get lost in the translation, so to speak. I did not even have the book at the time, but I quickly purchased it, very curious about what I could learn from it and excited about the possibility of having further discussions with him about the bricolage, which we ultimately did have. I have no doubt that he had a very special reason for asking me to read pp. 62-67 back on October 8, 2008, just a couple of months before his passing. The excerpt, titled “Expanding the Concept of Relationship in the Bricolage: Symbiotic Hermeneutics in the Disciplines” thus forms the point of entry text (POET) for this current research project, and his article, “On to the Next Level: Continuing the Conceptualization of the Bricolage” (Kincheloe, 2005a) will provide the guidance. This point of entry text, as it turned out, was used much differently than one would anticipate. The content in the excerpt was always in the back of my mind as I conducted this research, but the analysis was completed at the end of my research. Interestingly, the analysis of that piece of text helps tie everything together in the study, including my interesting phenomenological experiences. My initial point of entry text for the actual writing of Chapter 4 was a long, improvisationally written piece on what I had come to understand during my research and which was condensed for this current dissertation. There is more analysis to accomplish on the text he assigned me, much more to understand. But for now, what has been interpreted and how it ties everything together serves the purposes of this study.


Introduction to the Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage


The late Joe Lyons Kincheloe (2001a, 2005a, 2008c; Kincheloe & Berry, 2004), a world renowned critical theorist, had developed an advanced conceptualization of an interdisciplinary, multimethodological, multitheoretical, and mutliperspectival approach for education research. From personal conversations with him in which he referred to the process in “multidimensional” terms, and using his standard protocol for naming his complex concepts, the process being studied here is referred to as the multidimensional critical complex bricolage so that the title specifies its main attributes and differentiates it from other forms of bricolage. The multidimensional critical complex bricolage discursively synthesizes diverse perspectives, research methods, and theoretical frameworks, also incorporating what he had termed the philosophical bricolage and fourth dimension research, in order to critically examine and understand complex, interrelated phenomena. It is an improvisational form of research that is simultaneously creative and intuitive, drawing on affect and desire, as well as rigorous, drawing on intellect. Kincheloe (2005b) described his conceptualization:

On one level, the bricolage can be described as the process of getting down to the nuts and bolts of multidisciplinary research. Ethnography, textual analysis, semiotics, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, historiography, discourse analysis, combined with philosophical analysis, literary analysis, aesthetic criticism, and theatrical and dramatic ways of observing and making meaning constitute the methodological bricolage. In this way, bricoleurs move beyond the blinds of particular disciplines and peer through a conceptual window to a new world of research and knowledge production. (p. 323)


Because to date there are no researchers who have moved forward with this form of research, the intent of this study was to further elucidate his conceptualization in comparison with current uses of the bricolage in educational research, to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon of the bricolage research experience in order to describe ways the process might be approached, and to demonstrate the full and rigorous application of the multiple dimensions of the bricolage as described and demonstrated by Kincheloe (2004a,2004b, 2004c,2004d, 2005a, 2008c) in and through his work.


Rationale for Using the Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage


The multidimensional critical complex bricolage meets complexity encountered head-on when attempting to understand complex, changing social problems. The goal is not to run away from the understanding of the complexity of social and educational issues by simplifying observations and subsuming them under generalized labels or by ignoring the unseen, yet discoverable dimensions. The goal is the opposite. By examining the phenomenon from many different viewpoints, or as Kincheloe states, from “multilogical” perspectives, a deeper, more coherent understanding can be achieved. Thus, the study begins broadly by looking at many angles, and it involves a great deal of critical “discernment” which is accomplished through discursive techniques using multiple forms of interpretation and analysis.  As he had explained to me in one of our discussions:


You have it right, we start more broadly looking at various perspectives to give us a "cubist consciousness" on a phenomenon/a. Then we begin to narrow our, by this time, informed perspective. There are many who once a scholar begins to talk about gaining diverse theoretical, methodological, disciplinary, and cultural perspectives think that she is taking on an impractical task that will yield only superficial, broad information. They don't seem to get that this is merely the first part of the research project. Yes, eventually we will sharpen our focus, but not until we're ready. (J. Kincheloe, personal communication, October 29, 2008)


Grounded in philosophy, as Kincheloe (2004a) states, the bricolage allows researchers to come to understand “how an awareness of the historical embeddedness of all acts of knowledge production and the social construction of knowledge shape the world of the researcher” (p. 8). In addition, the deep interdisciplinarity the bricolage affords, helps researchers “understand the occluded processes and relationships that vivify individual and group experiences” (p.xi). With a deeper understanding of how the world is shaped both externally and internally, researchers are in a better position to develop creative ideas and take viable actions to resolve issues relating to oppression. Thus, the multidimensional critical complex bricolage opens up new avenues for approaching research that provide hope for confronting injustice in relation to race, class, gender, sexuality, academic institution affiliation, and the multitude of other social justice issues that are facing education today.


The Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage: Conceptual Framework


This study is comprised of first, an analysis of current bricolage research in education in comparison to Kincheloe’s conceptualization. Drawing from qualitative research methods, a general process was worked out for approaching the analysis and write-up of the research. In addition, the multidimensional critical complex bricolage was employed on an excerpt of text that had been assigned reading by Kincheloe. A variety of methods and processes were used, including critical hermeneutics, semiotics, phenomenology, currere, textual analysis, polysemy, psychoanalysis, epistemological analysis, narratives, and more. 

Thus, this study demonstrates the dimensions of the critical complex bricolage as Kincheloe (2005a) had described in his last article about the bricolage, “On to the next level: Continuing the conceptualization of the bricolage.” These dimensions are summarized briefly below in the Framework for the Research.


Framework for the Research


As a framework, this study uses the dimensions presented in Kincheloe’s (2005b) article explaining his advanced conceptualization of the critical bricolage. These include: (1) methodological bricolage; (2) theoretical bricolage; (3) interpretive bricolage; (4) political bricolage; (5) narrative bricolage; (6) philosophical research (critical constructivism, historicity, epistemological insight); (7) critical hermeneutics; (8) identification of what is absent; (9) The fourth dimension of research (e.g., “kinetic epistemology of the possible”; “the sophistication of knowledge work moves to a new cognitive level” (Kincheloe, 2005, p. 346). This final dimension represents Kincheloe’s contention that as we actively engage in all of these dimensions of learning, research, and problem solving, we will develop higher order thinking and problem solving abilities—exemplifying his critical psychology of complexity, as described in Chapter 2, the Literature Review. Bricoleurs are transformed by this process and often their work is transforming for other people. This is why it is important and relevant for all contexts and for all segments of society, beyond the domain of education. It moves us past the lower level rote memorization and the view that knowledge is “out there” somewhere. People can learn to construct knowledge as they live their daily lives, living, working, and interacting. Through the critical constructivist worldview, the critical complex epistemology and the employment of the multidimensional critical complex bricolage, people become empowered to create new knowledge that is based on a reality that is closer to their own personally experienced truths as opposed to the truths imposed upon them by dominant power wielders, and they identify ways to empower themselves. This approach to learning and research shows that there need be no set “bar” to jump when it comes to education—that the bar was set too low to begin with for most learners and researchers, thus, bricoleurs question the value of reaching a low knowledge bar that has been established by someone whose interests may not align with their own. And as Kincheloe (2005a) explains,  “As  bricolage provides us new insights into the chaos of the contemporary, researchers become better equipped to imagining where we might go and what path we might take to get there through the jungle of information surrounding us” (p. 347). This is absolutely imperative given the vast amounts of information people are bombarded with on a daily basis.

Each of the dimensions listed above have been demonstrated and delineated within this study so that new bricoleurs can envision ways they might apply them in their own projects. However, it is important to point out that the process is not linear and it involves an intuitional approach. This has been documented as much as can be reasonably achieved. New questions have been posed during the process, some of which have been researched further in this study, and some of which will provoke further analysis and research by readers of this dissertation. The final dissertation holistically represents a complete synthesis of all of the dimensions Kincheloe has specified, thus serving as an example of an advanced application of Kincheloe’s (2005a) multidimensional critical complex bricolage.


The Research Process


The multidimensional critical complex bricolage is a discursive analysis. It may begin with a point of entry text (POET), as discussed, through which various perspectives are woven through (see Berry, 2004a, Figure 2, p. 112). For example, the methodological bricolage “employs numerous data-gathering strategies from the interviewing techniques of ethnography, historical research methods, discursive and rhetorical analysis of language, semiotic analysis of signs, phenomenological analysis of consciousness and intersubjectivity, psychoanalytical methods, Pinarian currere, to textual analysis of documents” (p. 125).  Thus, each dimension of the process has associated approaches from which to select. Kincheloe (2004a, 2004b, 2004c, 2004d) provides the theoretical conceptualization of the bricolage and Berry (2004a, 2004b, 2004c) provides a wealth of ideas for selecting perspectives, theories, ideologies, and philosophies, according to the dimension of the bricolage being employed. Berry (2004b) describes the process of threading through the POET with multiple discourses as “feedback looping.” A precaution, as noted by Berry (2004b, 2006) and discussed in the Literature Review, however, is to avoid a linear approach that circumvents the improvisational, free flowing, creative process.

Often the point of entry text might be the researcher’s, or in the case of using the process for learning, the student’s first thoughts about a particular topic that interests them, also referred to as generative themes. The researcher might begin with a written personal perspective or experience (Berry, 2004a). Generative themes are especially relevant to the person writing them, thus they provide strong motivation and passion which help drive the research.

An analysis may consist of multiple POETs that must be synthesized and new POETs can emerge from a single word. For example, this occurred in the Literature Review with the word “landmine.” In that particular example I had used the word landmine figuratively. An application of critical hermeneutics sent me, quite serendipitously, on an Internet excursion to look up the word “landmine.” The discussion about landmines and the status of them around the world then emanated from that research and I was enlightened to what a global issue they are. This provides an example of how allowing the research to unfold naturally using a variety of techniques and seeking a variety of perspectives will result in new understanding. This is a simple example of intuition-based research (something nudged me to seek) and it led to a deeper understanding of the multiple dimensions of an issue in the world causing enormous suffering that needs resolutions. I have found that when I follow these “nudges” often I find that they serendipitously are current issues being addressed in the media. I could take the landmine section and use it as a new POET to employ the bricolage and gain an even deeper understanding of the interrelationships that contribute to what is a very twisted, complex problem in the world. Further employment of bricolage would yield some viable solutions for dealing with this tragic problem. However, using discernment, since it is not possible to solve all of the world’s problems with one research project, it will be saved for another time. I later found that Kincheloe also had used the word landmine figuratively in his writing several times, another perspective from which to view and analyze the topic.

Thus, the POET forms a starting point as well as structure for the research (Berry, 2004a). As the bricoleur threads through various discourses, methods, and perspectives, subsequent research questions are asked as they emerge. The POET evolves, forming new structures as the bricoleur relinquishes to an autopoietic flow. For example, as hidden or new knowledge is revealed through this process, more questions will surface that the bricoleur will want to pursue, other questions will fall out of the process as not being significant to the issue at hand, and after several iterations, the research topic and the questions narrow to that which is most significant and of interest to the bricoleur for the specific purpose of the research. There can be multiple directions which may form multiple documents or POETs and these can become rearranged in the discursive product. This process requires continuous discernment and judgment as choices are made, which may be one of the reasons it contributes to the development of higher order thinking skills—this would be a great topic for someone to research further. One thing I have discovered in Kincheloe’s work and in my own experience is that this process yields far more ideas and creative options than can possibly be researched by one person, thus it is a great way to develop curricular options for students to research further as well as provide future researchers with ideas for topics needing additional research. In fact, Kincheloe’s works have done just that—he has provided a wealth of ideas for curricular applications as well as for additional research.

While this process may sound very abstract, random and daunting, bricoleurs will find that there is an inherent, internal guidance for this process of selecting focus that derives from passion, empathic concern, the mission for social justice, and the striving for knowledge. These are the emotions that can fuel bricoleurs for a quest for more knowledge. But to narrow down this quest, as Kincheloe (2004c) explains: “They choose particular interconnections because of their relevance to the alleviation of human suffering and the cultivation of the intellect. Thus, they seek both social and personal change.” As he explains, “Individual understanding and critical social change are synergistic, not antagonistic” (p. 66). This keeps the research focused. This represents my personal experience with the process as I have engaged with it and while working with Joe on his website. I was impassioned, seeking, questing but always unconditionally with no expectations attached in terms of personal gain, but rather for the purpose of social justice and personal growth.


Beginning the Bricolage


As presented in the textbook, Rigour and Complexity in Educational Research: Conceptualizing the Bricolage a POET can be anything at all (Kincheloe and Berry, 2004). It can be any form of discourse, a poem, song lyrics, a photograph, or a piece of artwork. It can be a blank piece of paper on which one writes what they know of a topic or “free writes.” One of the POETs that has launched this research is “Expanding the Concept of Relationship in the Bricolage: Symbiotic Hermeneutics in the Disciplines,” as was described earlier (Kincheloe, 2004c, pp. 62–67). The reason I selected this particular passage is because, as noted, it had been specifically assigned to me by Joe Kincheloe just before he passed away in relation to our discussions about the bricolage. From knowing him as a Master Teacher and studying his work, I believed there was a special reason he directed me to that excerpt in this book. He knew I was researching his bricolage for my dissertation and I believe that he found this passage particularly relevant for something he wished to convey about the bricolage. By using this text as the POET for demonstrating the rigor of critical bricolage, this relevance was decoded. It also provided content for demonstrating multiple ways the critical bricolage can be applied in other contexts. Employing a symbiotic critical hermeneutical analysis, which emphasizes relationships, generated additional texts. These newly generated POETs provided new launching points that emanated from topics enclosed within the original text, and in this way, the multiple dimensions as presented in the framework for this study were demonstrated in various contexts and the final dissertation cohered around a central piece. The examples were not carried out to the full and rigorous extent possible and there are other interpretations possible. They were judiciously stopped at particular points at which it was decided that they represented the particular dimension selected for demonstration, with explanations and ideas provided for further research. This process kept the dissertation from becoming “unmanageable.”

The final synthesis which evolves out of a rigorous deployment to the bricolage will yield new knowledge that will change the world (so Kincheloe’s theory predicts, and I believe it to be true). In my assessment, this dissertation has produced new knowledge and understandings; time will tell whether it changes the world.



Analysis in the Bricolage


As research methodologies were used for the analysis, such as complex critical hermeneutics, semiotics, phenomenology, and historiography, justifications were presented. It is also important that the research project maintains openness and flexibility in order to permit the intuitive and improvisational nature of the bricolage to flow so that the project evolves naturally. Complexity theory posits a natural, autopoietic evolution, but this can only occur through the trust and comfort in using an improvisational approach in which the bricoleur learns to “go with the flow” so to speak, to where the research leads him or her with discernment and critical thought, of course. This was maintained throughout the research.

Thus, this project provides a demonstration of the multidimensional critical complex bricolage and how this process can be approached. The philosophical foundation of the bricolage recognizes that research is never really completed and can always be carried forward, thus decisions were be made during the process that consider the goals of each contextual example for an appropriate place to stop. Bricoleurs are not seeking “final” or “true” answers, but rather, they use polysemy as Kincheloe (2004 b) states, “to keep the discussion open around particular phenomena, knowing that authoritarianism operates best when analysis is finalized” (p. 95). Bricoleurs are seeking a better understanding of social, psychological, political, economic, and learning contexts for the purpose of enacting effective and equitable changes. The bricolage (the final written and disseminated piece), which is represented by this dissertation, presents enacted solutions as well as opens the doors for more research and action.


The Research Questions


This study has shed some light on the criteria for answering the following questions: Does the overall study adequately demonstrate the rigorous employment of Kincheloe’s critical complex bricolage? Do the interpretations meet the guidelines specified by Kincheloe (Kincheloe, 2004, pp. 100–102)? Has new knowledge been produced with this study?

Due to the improvisational nature of the multidimensional critical complex bricolage, the study questions were tentative.  As portrayed, additional questions surfaced during the process of employing this research process (Kincheloe & Berry, 2004). Both Einstein and Kincheloe have noted, if we knew what we were going to find ahead of time, it would not be called research. While researchers begin with a topic and a general direction, when using the improvisational critical complex bricolage, the questions are subject to change as the research uncovers hidden dimensions and complex interactions. However, this study has addressed all of the questions and more, and it has proposed additional questions, which is the goal of this form of research.

As also noted, the bricolage begins broadly with multiple questions and narrows down as the research progresses and choices are made. While this study may have seemed overly ambitious and too broad relative to traditional forms of research, as Kincheloe (October 23, 2008) had assured me in response to this issue:


As you massage your understandings and think about what dimensions of the bricolage you will use, you can in your own personal way begin to narrow your topic and the scope of the dissertation. When scholars tell us that we can't do everything in our dissertations and we need to focus our attention, they are certainly correct. . . . the part of this often missed is how do we narrow and delimit. I don't think a dissertation writer narrows at the beginning but in the process of exploring the topic from diverse angles. As one is "shocked" by difference, informed by diverse perspectives on the topic of study, she can begin to determine what exactly she has to offer that is unique and innovative. Honestly, I don't think this can be accomplished at the beginning of the process.


In addition, keeping the project narrowed to that which most significantly and profoundly demonstrates the multidimensional critical complex bricolage was aided by referencing selection criteria Kincheloe had devised. As he details:


A particular interpretation is chosen because it: provides a richer insight into the text than did others; constructs an interconnected and cohesive portrait of the phenomenon; grants access to new possibilities of meaning; benefits marginalized groups in their struggle for empowerment; fits the phenomenon under study; accounts for many of the cultural and historical contexts in which the phenomenon is found; considers previous interpretations of the phenomenon in question; generates insight gained from the recognition of the dialectic of particularity and generalization, or wholes and parts; indicates an awareness of the forces that have constructed it; makes use of multiple perspectives of multiple individuals coming from diverse social locations; catalyzes just, intelligent, and worthwhile action. (Kincheloe, 2004e, pp. 101–102)


This is important on multiple fronts. Bricolage can be applied to improve every area of our lives. In relation to education, using the multidimensional critical complex bricolage can enhance instructional design, online education, teaching, learning, and educational research, taking them to “the next level,” as has been highlighted in the proposal for this research. Kincheloe (2005a) provides additional reasons:


As the bricolage provides us new insights into the chaos of the contemporary, researchers become better equipped to imagine where we might go and what path we might take to get there through the jungle of information surrounding us. The bricolage is no panacea, but it does allow us new vantage points to survey the epistemological wilderness and the possibilities hidden in its underbrush. (p.347)


In summary, it is also of essence to consider Kincheloe’s (2004a) assertion that bricoleurs “transcend regressive forms of reductionism. . . . [and] expand the envelope of social research, of what we can understand about the world. They are empowered to produce knowledge that can change the world” (p. 19). Time will tell whether the last book he wrote in 2008, Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction, which was most likely researched and written using his multidimensional critical complex bricolage, will change the world as he had predicted in the book. It has changed my world and I believe it will change the world for other people but then I believe wholly in Joe’s dream. At any rate, the question that came to mind at the beginning of my journey to research and write this dissertation, in relation to the thousands of hours one must spend on producing research for a dissertation, of what value is it if it does not, even in some small way, have an impact toward changes in the world that are so desperately needed today?


Researcher Transformation: Philosophical Dimension


This research is noted to be transformative, one of the important reasons for positioning the researcher in the context of the research, which I have started to do already. It is also a factor behind Kincheloe stressing the importance of the philosophical bricolage. As Berry (2004c) states, “It is crucial that bricoleurs locate themselves in the discourses of the bricolage, thus the bricolage may take on a phenomenological form. What a bricoleur selects or does not select and how he/she interprets the text has been influenced by the multiple socializing contexts and discourses through which he/she has passed” (p. 164). Thus, questions that may need to be addressed in the analysis include: How do I fit into this study of the bricolage? What is my past experience with it? How do my personal experiences affect my choices when employing the bricolage? Have I, personally, been transformed through using the bricolage? In what ways have I changed? This study has delved deeply into the transformative changes I have experienced as the researcher and interpretations of what they signify.


“Methodology” (Methodological Processes)


The multidimensional critical complex bricolage transcends “methodology” because it involves using multiple methodological processes during the natural unfolding of the research. It is beyond the constraints of this study to describe in great detail all of the methods used and how they have been adjusted to meet the needs of this unique form of research. Some of these are described in context of the study in the next chapter. Briefly described here are relevant traditional research concerns that apply to this study.


Overview of the Multiple Methods and Processes


The multidimensional critical complex bricolage is a discursive, analytical research process that uses multiple theoretical frameworks, perspectives, and interpretive processes to gain a multidimensional understanding of the phenomenon under investigation, which necessarily involves extensive research in terms of depth and breadth. In this case, the object of study is the multidimensional critical complex bricolage itself, as a research process. A deep analysis of the process and comparing it with the current state of bricolage research launched this project as an aid for developing a viable process to apply the multidimensional critical complex bricolage in other contexts. Following that, the research process involved an analysis of the specific text Kincheloe has assigned me and the results were evaluated in terms of rigor and the knowledge that was produced, based on Kincheloe’s theoretical concepts.


Ethical Considerations/Population and Sampling


This is a discursive study and builds on existing narrative and discursive data. No population or study group was involved. The study was exempt from an IRB review. As shown in Chapter 5, choices made during the process of bricolage have both intended and unintended consequences. The rigor of the bricolage and Kincheloe’s selection criteria mitigate for negative unintended consequences.


Quantitative Data Collection and Analysis


There was no collection of quantitative data for the purpose of this study. The only quantitative data used for this study was existing data from a publicly accessible website for which only descriptive statistics have been utilized, maintaining anonymity of the participants who had voluntarily supplied the data to the website.


Organization of the Data


The data is primarily discursive in nature such as articles, books, emails, blogs, court documents, researcher-created artifacts, journal entries, and electronic information. They have been filed by topic and/or author. However, since this project involved an interpretation of Kincheloe’s work, which can yield references to music, movies, paintings, or other artifacts, this data and notes on it have also been filed in a binder relating specifically to his work and stored in corresponding computer files. Other data include numerous photographs taken that document experiences during the research, such as during epistemological road trips. A daily journal has been kept and a key or index constructed to make it easy to locate relevant information. The journal includes what was accomplished that day, research notes, highlights of decisions, communications, reflections, ideas, analyses, serendipitous events, epiphanies, etc., which were used for the analysis.


Transcription, Analysis, and Coding of the Data


Coding of data in the traditional sense was not needed in this study because, contrary to simplifying and collapsing data under specific labels, this bricolage sought to complicate. Using semiotics, hermeneutics, and polysemy, the purpose was to gain as many perspectives as possible rather than simplify and collapse meaning under a few categories as is generally the goal with coding and analyzing qualitative data. The research process itself brought out pertinent and persistent metaphors which were highlighted as the research progressed and the analyses pointed to viable actions for changes in education. The study has also made use of songs and videos as data. Selected items have been analyzed in context with the unfolding study. The approach was quite different from analyzing and coding because it is a more improvisational approach that naturally reveals deeper meanings during the reiterative research process.




This study has exceeded the rigor that is typically achieved by standard triangulation methods because it uses many different perspectives and sources of data, exceeding that which is typically used in triangulated qualitative studies (Kincheloe, 2005a). Triangulation according to Creswell (2008) involves corroborative evidence from multiple sources—individuals, data, and types of data. As indicated previously, the multidimensional critical complex bricolage threads multiple perspectives through the initial Point of Entry Text(s), which in this case, comprised of excerpts from a POET that was produced improvisationally upon completion of the greatest portion of the research and the excerpt that Kincheloe had provided. Additional research was conducted to address validation, verification, and research value in relation to the findings, and an evaluation of the process and results is presented in Chapter 5.


Conclusion: A Multidimensional, Evolving Bricolage Map


The bricolage map, just like the bricolage itself, must be viewed as evolving guidance. Kincheloe (2003a, 2004a) has particular recommendations for new bricoleurs that will be helpful here. While it is not possible to set out in advance the exact steps, it is possible to determine some of the major goals for the project that lie outside the formal design as presented in this chapter. First, he recommends researching and writing about philosophy, which was been done and was continued throughout the study. Next, an environmental scan of bricolage research was conducted and summarized as presented in the literature review. This scan continued throughout the duration of the research. This could have been extensive and time-consuming, but it became clear that bricolage studies were not referencing Kincheloe’s last works, including his last book which is critical to the project, thus, the bricolage studies in the literature were quickly deemed to fall short of meeting the rigor he was calling for. Research into methodologies was conducted and as methodologies were used, such as phenomenology, ethnography, currere, dialectics, hermeneutics, critical hermeneutics, semiotics, polysemy, and others, they were also studied in greater detail. However, Kincheloe’s view was that too great a focus on methods can potentially result in reductionism (due to traditional approaches), so less knowledge is advantageous because, as I found, knowing less contributed to maintaining an improvisational approach and creative ways to use methods. The choices I have made throughout the research have been delineated and justified. At the end of Chapter 4, a multidimensional critical complex bricolage analysis on the piece of text Kincheloe had assigned was undertaken. The “Framework for the Research,” as presented in this chapter was followed throughout Chapter 4 and also applied to the excerpt of text.

Thus, all dimensions of the bricolage as Kincheloe has stipulated were applied in this study. The research questions were kept in mind during the entire process and other research questions were posed, as is expected when engaging in this form of research. Discernment for what was included in the final chapters of the dissertation was employed because far more content was generated than was needed. The process used has been summarized for new bricoleurs so that they might apply the knowledge in their own research. As expected, some parts dropped out, new parts have been added, and other parts have many different perspectives woven through them. Berry (2004a) explains, “The bricoleur can create, pause, return, visit, and revisit, access, and withdraw from the process as needed while combining both the epistemological, ontological, and axiological architecture of the bricolage” (p. 107).

Engaging in this research has been much like weaving a tapestry much like bell hooks (1994) describes in her book, Teaching to Transgress, but in this case, the tapestry is multidimensional. I like to think of it as the cosmos space-time fabric itself, captured in beyond-the-rainbow colors with a strong golden thread of love interwoven throughout.


Paradis, V. J. (2013). Did Joe Lyons Kincheloe Discover the Golden Chalice for Knowledge Production? The Application of Critical Complex Epistemology and the Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage. (Doctoral Dissertation)




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“As a child I wanted so desperately for magic to be real. I would work for hours collecting what I hoped were just the right combination of ingredients to make some type of magic potion that would provide me with special powers….I found such magic in words viewed in a postformal matrix and I observe and practice that magic everyday.” (Kincheloe, 2006, Reading, Writing, Thinking, p. 13)
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