'Ways of knowing and showing': Imagination and representation in feminist participatory social research

Victoria Foster

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article considers how the arts, creativity and imagination can be employed in feminist sociological inquiry in order to capture the complex nature of human lives and to authentically represent research findings. This dual concern is reflected in the article's title which comes from Amanda Kemp's work. Here she describes her one-woman show as using performance 'both as a way of knowing and as a way of showing'. The arts offer a way for researchers and research participants to examine their lived experience, to reflect creatively upon this, and to know themselves more deeply. The arts can also guide an enriched writing of research and vivify the dissemination of results, stirring the audience's imagination with the outcome, in line with feminist research's principal aim, of effecting change on a variety of levels. The article reflects upon a participatory, arts-based research project carried out at a Sure Start programme in North West England. Here, the arts were employed throughout the research process: visual art, poetry and short-film making offered innovative and emotive methods of collecting data and of encouraging self-reflection in research participants; drama was used as a means of disseminating the results of the research to a wide and varied audience.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)361-376
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Social Work Practice
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


    • Evocative representation
    • Motherhood
    • Participatory arts-based research
    • Poverty
    • Story-telling


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