Diffractive Genealogy Method

18th January 2024

Lead institution:
University of Newcastle

Professor Natasha Mauthner

Funded Project:
Methods for Change Phase 2

This ‘How-To’ Guide outlines the Diffractive Genealogy method used by Professor Natasha Mauthner from the University of Newcastle. The poster was created in collaboration with Maddy Vian, Maddy Vian Illustrations.

Twitter: @NatashaMauthner

Social scientists from the Methods for Change project came together to discuss the research methods they use and how methods create change in society. Drawing from the expertise in the Aspect network, they collaborated on a series of ‘how to’ guides which are step-by-step instructions and top-tips for adopting these methods in a range of sectors. Visual and multisensory pieces, including comics, illustrations, posters, booklets, short films and animations were then developed in collaboration with creatives to capture the key value of these research methods with a view to being able to convey them to a variety of audiences.

It is hoped that these resources will be useful for people in higher education, commercial, public sector, third sector and community organisations who are interested in experimenting with, and expanding professional skills in, the adoption of social science research methods.

A Diffractive Genealogy is a relational method used to study research phenomena in terms of the complex tangle of relationships in which these phenomena are embedded.

It starts from the assumption that the social issues we study – e.g. gender inequality, work-life balance, political disaffection, mental health, technological change, environmental sustainability, globalisation – are best understood by analysing their interconnected human and non-human dimensions. Where much conventional social research foregrounds individual people, and their experiences and perspectives, a Diffractive Genealogy emphasises relationships between people and other living and non-living entities, for example, communities, institutions, policies, laws, technologies, nature.

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