Research Method: Social Practice Art as Research

BackResources

26th May 2021

This ‘how to’ guide outlines Social Practice Art as Research used by Jenna Ashton from the University of Manchester. The artwork was created in collaboration with Irene Solé Canet.

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.

Funded Project:
Methods for Change

Research Method: Social Practice Art as Research

Social Practice Art as Research is a multi-disciplinary and political practice which places people at the centre. This method can be used with individuals and large groups. It aims to foster social or political change through collaboration with individuals, communities and institutions through the creation of art, together.

Social practice encompasses a number of art mediums and methods, languages and forms of art. Social Practice Art as Research often culminates in public-facing installations or performance, with a parallel emphasis placed on the process of creating and doing, as much as an end work. It is precisely the uncertainty, unpredictability and spontaneity that comes from interacting and co-creating together with participants that makes this method an exciting approach. The social interaction component inspires, drives, or in some instances, completes the project (there is not always a final art ‘object’). With an agenda for social change at its heart, this method has been used to engage and empower a wide range of individuals and groups including local activists, charities, various residents’ groups, NGOs, government representatives and healthcare providers.

Click here to view full size

You can find all the research outputs from the Methods for Change series here



Explore more Resources View all

Should we spend more time talking about methods?

This blog by the Methods for Change team, illustrated by Jack Brougham, asks if we should spend more time talking about the methods we use as researchers. Drawing on a recent paper, we suggest that researchers need to articulate why methods matter in creating change to global challenges. We share three creative techniques that we have experimented with across the Methods for Change project that can encourage playful, reflective conversation about methods and their role in galvanising change.

Collaborative Zine Making Method

This ‘How-To’ Guide outlines the Collaborative Zine Making Method used by Professor Sarah Marie Hall from the University of Manchester and developed in collaboration with Inspire Women Oldham. The zine was also created in collaboration with Inspire Women Oldham.

Oral Histories of Sensory Memories

This ‘How-To’ Guide outlines the Oral Histories of Sensory Memories method used by Associate Professor Roisin Higgins from Maynooth University, Republic of Ireland. The poster was created in collaboration with Maddy Vian, Maddy Vian Illustrations.

Pop-up Stall Method

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.