Re-ordering and re-performing: Re-placing cultural participation and re-viewing well-being measures

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter reflects on empirical findings to present methodological developments that emerged from investigating the well-being agenda and cultural policy. Research evaluating the impact of cultural participation tends to approach participants and ask how a given dose of culture (such as a community arts programme or a particular performance, for example) may have improved their well-being, and has been criticised for lacking robustness. This chapter attempts to reveal what happens when you test this relationship by re-ordering the research site and variable: instead, using a secondary, large-scale qualitative data set collected about well-being to ask it questions of culture.

I ‘re-performed’ the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS)’ Measuring National Well-being (MNW) Debate, which enabled me to listen to people describe what matters to them and compare these to headline reports. Drawing from Butler’s recent developments of performativity as ‘re-performance’, a mode in which dysfunction can be exposed, the chapter applies this to a methodology of revealing, re-telling, re-ordering and re-placing. The chapter summarises findings from secondary analysis of ONS qualitative survey data, together with group discussions, re-producing methodologies of the ONS. It reveals aspects of the values that well-being, cultural and policy research obscure and reflects on how cultural participation might be re-placed in conceptions of well-being for policy. Knowledge of participation and well-being is not a neutral representation of either. Disrupting and re-ordering knowledge practices enables an understanding of the relationship between cultural participation and well-being in a way that better encompasses how the good life is lived.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultures of participation
Subtitle of host publicationArts, digital media and cultural institutions
EditorsBirgit Eriksson, Carsten Stage, Bjarki Valtysson
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Re-ordering and re-performing: Re-placing cultural participation and re-viewing well-being measures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this