Knowing with New Media



Bricolage as research methodology – Lévi-Strauss' concept

The concept of bricolage is borrowed from the French anthropologist Lévi-Strauss. Simplifying the concept of Lévi-Strauss' bricoleur, Maxwell portrays the bricoleur ‘as someone who uses whatever tools and materials are at hand to complete a project’ (loc. 971).

The rule of bricolage, that is of an amateur tinkering with ideas and objects and using ‘devious means compared to those of craftsman’ (Lévi-Strauss, 1962, p. 16), establishes a circularity of the privately atypical standardised nature of ideational practice. The bricoleur makes do with whatever is at hand – materials and tools that have not been designed and manufactured for a specific task but rather come from a bricoleur’s private stock and collections. These materials are saturated with meaning associated with the personal story of the producer. ‘They each represent a set of actual and possible relations; they are “operators” …’ (p. 18) that enhance the possibilities of self-reflective and self-realising processes.

In respecting ‘the complexity of meaning-making processes and contradictions of the lived world’ (Rogers, 2012, p. 4), bricolage embraces the eclecticism of the individual, the reflexive approach ‘to pursue the realisation of themselves (self) through diverse means chosen on the basis of unique, subjective experiences’
(Altglas, 2014, p. 4).

In relation to deep remixability, however, the Ripples' bricolage imposes a restriction in the use of miscellaneous repertoire. The limitation is established out of respect for international copyright law that authorises the producer of an original artwork or intellectual body of work with the absolute right to its possession and use. Although one can access an abundance of images, audio and video resources on the Internet to create remixes, memes or videos, the knower-bricoleur is encouraged to generate their own database of bricoles drawing on the world around them and their innate talents and skills.

'The "bricoleur" is adept at performing a large number of tasks; but unlike the engineer, […] his first practical step is retrospective'
(Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1962)

Matt Rogers


Joseph Maxwell


Claude Levi Strauss


Veronique Altglas


Identifying the bricoleur's first step as retrospective, the Ripples model suggests reflecting on the knower's interests and existing repertoire of natural abilities, acquired knowledge and practical skills.

This set of personally smart psychological tools is the knower-bricoleur's 'treasury', to which they add newly gained competencies by mapping new associations from heterogeneous resources.



All content and artwork (with the exception of the embedded video From cave drawings to emojis: Communication comes full circle) on this site is Copyright © 2018 Ripples Pedagogy PTY. LTD.