On July 19th Dr Dawn Mannay give a well-attended seminar presentation at Cardiff School of Social Sciences. The event was jointly hosted by WISERD and the Social Research Association Cymru. Dr Mannay’s talk explored how different visual and creative research approaches can be employed to work with diverse communities. The seminar focused on the data production techniques of photo-elicitation, mapping, collage, emotion stickers and sandboxing. The seminar concluded with thoughtful observations on ethical tensions and fieldwork practicalities associated with the use of visual methods.
Amongst a range of techniques, attendees heard about the benefits of using sandboxing as a data gathering method. This is a particularly valuable approach for it draws out participants’ use of (often powerful) visual metaphors. Notably, Dr Mannay also reflected on the use of drawing as a participatory method. She outlined how it has been used with children who had repeated medical procedures.
Seminar attendees heard how often such children were reluctant to talk about their experiences in formal interviews. Yet visual elicitation techniques, specifically analysis of their drawings, allowed medical staff to understand the child’s perspective and, in turn, to change and adapt their practice in ways that better supported the children’s needs. Dr Mannay also noted how children and young people were much more confident in using this technique compared to adults who were often reticent, lacking in confidence and sometimes resistant to sharing their drawings. Dr Mannay observed that, notwithstanding the latter challenges, drawing was amongst her preferred participatory methods because it is slow and allows participants space and time to reflect upon their lives, which in turn produces rich research data.
Dr Dawn Mannay is Senior Lecturer in social psychology at Cardiff University. Her research interests include class, education, gender, geography, generation, national identity, violence and inequality. This work employs participatory, visual, creative and narrative methods. Dawn has published widely, including in leading international peer-reviewed academic journals such as: Visual Methodologies; Families, Relationships and Societies; British Journal of Sociology of Education; and Qualitative Research. Dr Mannay’s latest book is: Mannay, D. (ed) (2016) Our Changing Land: Revisiting Gender, Class and Identity in Contemporary Wales, Cardiff, University of Wales Press, ISBN 978-1-78316-884-2