Encyclopedia Entry

Bricolage and Bricoleur

Martyn Hammersley

The French terms bricolage and bricoleur were given their key academic sense by the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and were subsequently taken up by others, including some recent writers on qualitative research in the United States. In contemporary French usage, bricolage means, broadly speaking, do it yourself, and a bricoleur is an amateur who can turn her or his hand to practical repairs of various kinds. Lévi-Strauss (1962/1966) used these concepts in his structuralist analysis of myths, portraying the production of myths as a form of bricolage. His usage was subsequently applied to new fields and elaborated on by others, including Gérard Genette (1966, p. 145); Jacques Derrida (1970/2007); Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1972/2004, pp. 7–8); Deena Weinstein and Michael Weinstein (1991); and Cary Nelson, Paula Treichler, and Lawrence Grossberg (1992). Lévi-Strauss was concerned with the contrast that is often drawn between “primitive” and “civilized” thought, but unlike some earlier ...

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