Methods Exchange

Author: Carey Jewitt //

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MIDAS met up with colleagues from the Communicating chronic pain: Interdisciplinary methods for non-textual data based at LSE to share our research experiences. CCP and MIDAS are both Methodological Innovation Projects funded by NCRM.

During our methods exchange MIDAS and CCP presented data and preliminary ideas, focusing in on our methodological processes. This exchange was promoted by two points of connection between the projects.

First, both share a focus on the non-textual and sensory– the visual, aural, embodied, and spatial – as ways of getting at different kinds of experiences. CCP ‘explores the gap between the experience and expression of chronic pain by examining non-verbal aspects of the pain experience: through body mapping; sound; spatial elements; social media; and technology’. MIDAS is concerned with understanding how the body is understood in complex digital environments, where the non-verbal is brought to the fore.

Second, both projects explore and utilise the methodological synergies between Arts and Social Science. Three of the MIDAS ethnographic case studies are within the arts – fashion, performance, and design. CCP has facilitated a series of workshops with visual, sound and performing artists, involving chronic pain patients, and clinicians working with chronic pain.

Through our discussions we identified several themes cutting across our experiences:

  • The expectations of the arts in relation to participation, both project researchers had experienced being drawn into practices and active participation in events, and positioned differently than in the social sciences;
  • The ways in which the body and bodily experience are coded beyond language was a strong theme, noting the different ways in which the arts and the social sciences analytically ‘carve up’ the body;
  • CCP and MIDAS both make extensive use of digital technologies including social media, and both experienced the ways in which these ‘pushed’ at our methods – creating new challenges and possibilities for our research processes.

We will be presenting our work and exploring some of these issues at a joint symposium on Methods at the Boundaries of Social Sciences and Arts/Humanities, at the NCRM Research Methods Festival, Oxford in July 2014.

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