The only comedy in the world about the pitfalls of positivist social science?

I am attending the NCRM Research Methods Festival in July, Oxford. I like the fact that it is called a Festival rather than a Conference as I think it sets a particular vibe about what the event aims to achieve – which is to get people excited about research methods and for those of us who are already excited, provide the best place to meet other excited geeks. I think this is an important event as I’ve heard that Research Methods seems to be a topic students are bored by and tends to get offloaded to new lecturers or PhD students. But there is no reason for Research Methods to be boring or a burden.

In the evening of the festival, there is an entertainment programme. The great sociologist and Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed presenter Laurie Taylor will be speaking on one night and Red Magic, a socialist magician on another. There is also an option for a walking tour of Oxford and a film showing of the British longitudinal ITV documentary, 7Up, which follows the lives of a group of children who were aged 7 in 1964 to the current day (which is a similar age group to the 1958 Birth Cohort study I am using for my PhD)

Having a film viewing at a conference or event is an interesting idea. If I were to show a film I would show possibly the only comedy about the pitfalls of positivist social science – Kitchen Stories (2003).


Kitchen Stories is a Norwegian/Swedish comedy set in the 1950s about sophisticated Swedish researchers going out to observe the kitchen habits of single men in rural Norway. Inevitably issues arise with the research design: observer effects, research ethics, power relationships in research, the trials and tribulations in working with cross-country research teams and so on… All with a soundtrack which includes the fabulous Swedish Jazz Pianist, Jan Johansson.

If anyone can find any other research methods related films, then please let me know – Pygmalian / My fair lady is another one perhaps?

Maybe one day we could put on a Research Methods film festival! *faints with excitement*

(c) 2014 Annika Coughlin

  1. UPDATE: Suggestion from @pjwakeling and @apasztor is Vrať se do hrobu! (Go Back to the Grave!) about a Czech sociologist/ethnographer

    Review Summary: Though he is in his twenties, with a wife and children, the sociologist in this film is sent to study an aspect of the lives of high-school students, and must go undercover to do it. At first he is skittish about his role, but soon he discovers how much fun it is, and delights in the ability to win the attention of attractive girls. Meanwhile, his real family is not getting to see much of him, and conflicts arise. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi


  2. Another one from @apasztor: Magic Town (1947)

    Summary: Rip Smith’s opinion-poll business is a failure…until he discovers that the small town of Grandview is statistically identical to the entire country. He and his assistants go there to run polls cheaply and easily, in total secrecy (it would be fatal to let the townsfolk get self-conscious). And of course, civic crusader Mary Peterman must be kept from changing things too much. But romantic involvement with Mary complicates life for Rip; then suddenly everything changes… Written by Rod Crawford


  3. anelim said:

    Awesome film, a Norwegian friend showed it to us a few years ago and I’ve been trailing the DVD everywhere with me and showing it to students and friends! methods film festival sounds fun, although we might have to make some films first 🙂


  4. I never even thought about making our own films….. perhaps a bit ambitious??? But good to think big!


  5. Ros Edwards said:

    Some great ideas here and – you never know – they may find their way into a future RMF.


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