Coming to our senses? A critical approach to sensory methodology

Jennifer Mason, Katherine Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In light of the recent upsurge in the popularity of sensory, and particularly visual, methods, this article makes a case for a sensory methodology that remains attuned to the complex ways in which the senses are tangled with other forms of experience or ways of knowing. Drawing on a project investigating the social significance of family resemblances, we look at how our methods (a combination of visual methods and creative interviewing) emphasized the interplay between tangible and intangible sensory experience, including elements of the sensory that were visible, audible, touchable, etc., in the present as well as those which people conjured in their sensory imaginations and ethereal or mystical ways of resembling. We suggest that 'sensory intangibility' is vital to how we see resemblances and to the practice of sensory methodology. © 2009 SAGE Publications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-603
Number of pages16
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • Family resemblances
  • Photo elicitation
  • Qualitative interviews
  • Sensory methods
  • Visual methods


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