Bricolage: A tool for race-related, historically situated complex research

Tasha R. Wyatt*, Zareen Zaidi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: As medical education grapples with larger issues of race and racism, researchers will need new tools to capture society's complex issues. One promising approach is bricolage, a methodological and theoretical approach that allows researchers to bend analytical tools to meet their needs. Bricolage is both a metaphor and an activity to describe the cognitively creative process researchers engage in while conducting interdisciplinary and multidimensional research. Process: At the heart of bricolage is the researchers' engagement in critical hermeneutics, which at its basic level recognises that all objects under study are subject to larger social, political, and historical forces that constrain individuals. Researching with bricolage treats objects of inquiry as part of a historically situated complex system. As such, data are interpreted in ways that build conceptual bridges between individuals' concrete experiences and concepts acknowledging larger social, historical, economic, and political forces. Pearls: To engage in bricolage, researchers should begin by reading and comparing ideas across disciplines to expose disciplinary-specific assumptions, as well as learn about new theories, approaches and methods that might be utilised for a bricolage project. Researchers should also ask themselves philosophical questions to identify new readings or their data. And finally, researchers should experiment with analytical metaphors because they help to frame new relationships between seemingly unrelated theories, methods and concepts. As researchers engage in bricolage, they need to sidestep their training and over-reliance on research protocols and checklists and engage in a creative tinkering to interpret the world in new ways. In doing so, scholars will be able to push traditional research boundaries and generate critical dialogue to move the field forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-175
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Bricolage: A tool for race-related, historically situated complex research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this