The Skagen Institute

How might we think differently about our methods to better grapple with the complexity of 21st Century contexts?
The Skagen Institute was launched in 2013 to provide a collaborative infrastructure for scholars to innovate more radically in research methods for social and humanistic research. Conceived as a ‘safe space’ for experimentation, the Skagen Institute is initially geared toward academic scholars. Beyond the Academy, the Institute partners with other arenas where research and design play an important role in the process of understanding the social and human conditions of the 21st Century. The rationale for this Institute is based on the premise that normative definitions and parameters for research methods tend to constrain the creative and flexible adaptation needed to adequately address the complexity of contemporary social contexts. The post internet epoch demands better resonance and fit between qualitative research practices and the complexity of multi-mediated contexts. At the level of theory, researchers can consider some of the epistemological and ideological conditions within which we find ourselves doing inquiry in the 21st Century, which are tied closely to shrinking budgets, greater public scrutiny of academic research, and the push toward ‘big data.’ At the granular level of everyday practice, we can explore the creative everyday activities of good researchers, where curious people find pathways to meaning that both defy traditional conceptions of methods and also extend our understanding of ‘what counts’ as a part of one’s method. The activities and core values of the Institute challenge researchers from academic and non-academic arenas to think differently about how one might frame, conduct, and share social inquiry in the 21st Century.

The Skagen conference

The Skagen conference is an annual event held in Denmark in November, modeled after the idea of a working retreat where foremost experts join participants to collaboratively practice innovative, ethical, and robust methods for studying complex and digitally-saturated social contexts. During this week-long conference, participants spend intensive time interrogating and applying innovative and creative ways of knowing.

Latest Posts

The camera as an ethnographic tool

What is the impact of visual material on our analysis and theoretical frameworks? This blogpost reflects on the epistemological trajectories and methodological consequences of working with a video camera as an ethnographic tool.

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Shaping ideals, shaping gender

Through an auto-ethnographic visual essay, I think through the power of graphic design as a tool–not only for provoking opinions, but also to change how we define people and shape expressions.

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NSFW as method

How might the #NSFW tag and concept function as a metaphor for method? This blog emerges from a question Annette asked me while we were driving a minivan through Stig-Larssonesque Scandinavian landscape: “what is the #NSFW tag? A striptease? A tease?”

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Blogging as method

In this blog post, I make an argument for the scholarly blog by thinking of blogging, not as a research output, but rather as method. And I should clarify that I mean method in a broad sense, not least including method of analysis.

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Murky Methods


I‘m Janus. I‘m a PhD student. This is my attempt to show you just how messy, weird and illogical research as an activity can be. In this collage, I’ll try to carve open my research process by showing you various visual and textual expressions that are linked to or have had an impression on my research process in the past almost two years. Some of it is colourful and whimsical, some of it beautiful, an a lot of it is gritty, messy, and in some instances a little sad or depressing. But every step of this has led me to where I am now.

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Annual Skagen Conference

Skagen Conference 2016

The Skagen Conference in 2016 will focus on how we might develop ‘transgressive methodology’ as a way to consider complexity of social contexts in the digital age. This workshop/meeting/retreat is intended for any professional researcher seeking to learn more about how to innovate in qualitative methods, particularly as these can be used to shift from description to intervention, or from objects of analysis to flows and layers of meaning through analysis. This is particularly useful for PhD students to learn how alternative approaches can satisfy criteria for rigor and quality across many disciplines. The anticipated dates of this conference are November 21-25.

Skagen Conference 2015

In 2015, the Skagen Conference focused on innovative theories and methods for disseminating or sharing academic knowledge beyond the typical academic writing genre. Guest Professor Katrin Tiidenberg (Estonia) facilitated workshops wherein participants could explore short form writing for social media, or creative and fictional writing in short or long form. Participants considered conceptual and practical frameworks for justifying this type of work and discussed strategies for articulating the credibility of such knowledge production practices to various stakeholders.

Skagen Conference 2014

The inaugural Skagen Conference in 2014 focused on developing ‘transgressive methodology’ as a way to embrace and trouble what we see in the digital age as a significant mismatch between traditional norms and techniques for inquiry and the complexity of the social contexts these methods seek to comprehend.

Want to get involved?

If you are interested in joining this project, send us an inquiry and we will get back to you as soon as possible!