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Participatory approaches

The following two definitions offer a useful insight into this approach, and highlight the need for it within the context of a practice-based research portfolio:

“participatory research focuses on a process of sequential reflection and action, earned out with and by local people rather than on them”

(Cornwall and Jewkes, 1995, p.1667)

“Participatory methods are a diverse set of techniques bound together by a common concern for actively involving research subjects in the construction of data” (Gallagher, 2008, p.138)

Participatory approaches should aim to be the opposite of tokenism (Arnstein, 1969) and have the potential to “draw out hidden and curious participants” (Miles and Sullivan, 2012, p.27), due to challenging the top-down manner in which activities can be carried out. There is a perception among some audiences that culture is not for them, as evidenced by audience engagement reports by arts organisations (Arts Council England, 2011), which underlines the importance of multi-modal methods as they offer different ways in to working with the potential research participants. In adopting a multi-modal approach within my research I aimed to use audience appropriate and topic appropriate methods, following recognised principles of community engagement (PAS, 2014, Civic Voice, 2015). Cognitive mapping is specifically acknowledged as a participatory approach (Cornwall and Jewkes, 1995), there are strands of digital mapping which are participatory (Elwood, 2006) and digital storytelling techniques have been used to explore themes of place and culture (Hjorth and Pink, 2014, Mcgillivray et al., 2014). Further information on these methods is explained within section 2.4.