Visual Research Methods: Creative Practice as Mutual Recovery. Professor Susan Hogan





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Published on Aug 5, 2013

This project is interested in using innovate visual and performance based research methods and reflecting on these as part of the research process. Although visual methods are becoming more widely accepted as a social science research method (Pink 2012), performance based methods are less well established and the intersection between different methods is an exciting area of current enquiry. As well as assessing the interventions using traditional evaluative tools, this project intends to use the arts themselves to elucidate research outcomes. This short film will outline the proposed methods, and briefly theorise them. This film is intended to be of benefit to other social science practitioners who are thinking of employing visual methods or collaborating with artists as part of social science research projects.

Cornwall and Jewkes (2000, p.1) assert that the 'key difference between participatory and conventional methodologies lies in the location of power in the research process'. Participatory approaches are those that broadly recognise the 'particular expertise' of people within particular circumstances (Bennett & Roberts, 2004); this could be because of local or particular knowledge (Breitbart, 2003). Some theorists conceptualise this as 'active co-research' between researchers and participants (Wadsworth, 1998) who are active in defining research problems (Anyanwu, 1988); furthermore, participatory research 'must be sharply distinguished from conventional elitist research which treats people as objects of the research process' (Tilakaratna, 1990, p. 1).

To prevent this being little more than a 'sematic shift'; it is strongly recommended that arts in health teams and researchers spend some time actually exploring how the term 'participation' will translate into practice, as it is possible that practitioners will carry very different assumptions about what this means. Birch and Miller assert that those participating must be clear about the project's research aims (2002, p. 103) and open about the research process (p. 99). Banks & Armstrong (2012) advocate that there be clarity about power and responsibility:

'It is important to be clear about where power and responsibility lie in relation to different aspects of a research project. If there are parts that require specific academic skills or certain outputs for funders then this should be acknowledged. Equally, thought should be given as to whether some academic processes can be demystified or adapted for use by community participants (e.g. a participatory literature review)' (p.12).

Furthermore, though the funding proposal provides the catalyst and frame for work, the 'frame' is also a limiting frame, so assumptions about the nature of participation must even be considered at the bidding point ideally (though it is understood that sometimes until teams are actually in place a clear modus operandi is not sufficiently evident).


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