Pop-up Stall Method

18th January 2024

Lead institution:
University of Manchester

by Dr Robert Meckin and Dr Andrew Balmer

Funded Project:
Methods for Change Phase 2

This ‘How-To’ Guide outlines the Pop-up Stall method used by Dr Robert Meckin and Dr Andrew Balmer from the University of Manchester. The poster was created in collaboration with Maddy Vian, Maddy Vian Illustrations.

Twitter: @RJMeckin and @AndyBalmer

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.

The Pop-up Stall Method is a social research technique that stimulates people’s sensory experiences and develops interactional understandings on a topic of interest. Pop-up stalls involve setting up a stand or counter in a common space where passers-by can smell, touch, see and taste stimulus materials and discuss these with each other.

The stimuli can be objects, foodstuffs, scents, photographs, arts-materials – anything related to the project that people can see, smell and handle that might elicit comment, conversation, and interaction. They are a ‘mass object-elicitation’ approach because they can involve lots of participants and a collection of diverse objects or items. Pop-ups allow people to interact, compare and exchange ideas on the central topic and work towards nuanced, co-productive knowledge-making.

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