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  • Author or Editor: Dawn Mannay x
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Visual and creative methods of data production have become commonplace in social research studies. However, when researchers come to publish this work, the creativity of their data is often constrained by academic conventions that impose dense, dry, flat prose as the communicative exemplar. The priorities of publishing can hinder our ability to write in an accessible way but when we are writing as a project of social justice it is important to engage both cognitively and emotionally with an audience. Drawing on research with mothers and daughters residing in a marginalised area in south Wales, this article focuses on narratives of violence and domestic abuse. Moving from a contextualisation of the topic, to a creative presentation of participants’ stories, the article explores the process of liberation through writing; and the ways in which poetic writing exploits reflection and can inspire an audience to make changes.

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This chapter takes a case study approach, using one woman’s narrative journey from childhood to motherhood to explore the ongoing permeating presence of her childhood experience of domestic and family violence. While the influence of childhood experience on parenting is well recognised, Mannay also highlights the wider context of the normalization of male violence and the centrality of care in the construction of femininity, and their influence on the everyday life and aspirations of girls and women in work as well as family contexts.

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Wales remains a complex and divided land in which a marginalised and demonised working class has come to characterise areas of Wales dominated by poverty and social exclusion. Drawing on research with mothers and their daughters in a marginalised Welsh locale, this chapter explores the ideology of national unity alongside the divisions of everyday life; and the ways in which respectable and acceptable working class femininities are negotiated against a pervasive discourse of lack, stigma and classed moral panics.

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The distinctiveness of Wales in terms of its political life and culture has grown considerably since the early 2000s (Mackay, 2010). Nevertheless, beneath the imagery of the definitive nation, Wales remains a complex and divided land in which a marginalised and demonised working class has come to characterise areas of Wales dominated by poverty and social exclusion. Such polarisation has a spatial dimension that is illustrated in the creation of new ghettos of prosperity and poverty that now dominate the Welsh socioeconomic terrain, and this ‘stigma of place’ permeates the identities of residents. The chapter begins by considering how moral panics about particular places create ‘spatial folk devils’. The creation of moral panics through political discourses and mediated forms is then explored in terms of contemporary representations. Drawing on research with mothers and their daughters in a marginalised Welsh locale, the chapter examines the ideology of unity alongside the divisions of everyday life, and the ways in which respectable and acceptable working-class femininities are negotiated against a pervasive discourse of lack, stigma and classed moral panics.

As Cohen (1980, p 9) contends, societies are subject to periods of moral panic in which ‘a condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values’. Moral panics are often discussed in relation to group criminality, incivility and disorder. However, arguably, the emphasis on collective behaviour has shifted to that of the morality of deficient individuals who require discipline; and these deficiencies are seen as a product of personal choice, where individuals are authors of their own immorality (Burney, 2005).

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Principles and Practices

Co-authored by an international team of experts across disciplines, this important book is one of the first to demonstrate the enormous benefit creative methods offer for education research.

You do not have to be an artist to be creative, and the book encourages students, researchers and practitioners to discover and consider new ways to explore the field of education. It illustrates how using creative methods, such as poetic inquiry, comics, theatre and animation, can support learning and illuminate participation and engagement. Bridging academia and practice, the book offers:

• practical advice and tips on how to use creative methods in education research;

• numerous case studies from around the world providing real-life examples of creative research methods in education practice;

• reflective discussion questions to support learning.

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Pregnancy and motherhood are increasingly subjected to surveillance. Research has highlighted that public breastfeeding is difficult to navigate within existing constructs of acceptable femininity, but at the same time, mothers who formula feed are often located within discourses of the failed maternal subject. This article draws on intergenerational research with six mother/grandmother pairs from marginalised urban Welsh locales, which involved elicitation interviews around the everyday artefacts that participants presented to symbolise their experiences of motherhood and infant care. We examine the negotiation of acceptable motherhood in relation to the intrusive policing of lifestyle choices, consumption and infant feeding from family, friends and strangers. The article argues that the moral maze of surveyed motherhood renders infant feeding a challenging, and challenged, space for women.

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This chapter introduces multiple approaches to creative research methods and their use in education research. Creativity and creative thinking will be explored in creative research as ways to help make new knowledge and to challenge assumptions and expectations of what creative research methods can do (Ellsworth, 2005; Gauntlett, 2007; Thomson and Hall, 2008; Barone and Eisner, 2012; Harris, 2014; Pauwels and Mannay, 2020). Creative methodologies in education research will be introduced. We invite you to read the chapters in order, or to jump in and out, reading back and forth, or to use a chapter as a touch point while working on your research project. The case studies are examples to help you think through key questions and responses in the developing and doing of research. The last chapter has four activities to help you develop, generate and reflect on your way of doing creative research. In each chapter we offer case studies that show how creative methods can work in practice; however, this does not mean all research projects have to work in these ways.

Within education research, different disciplinary approaches influence the ways in which creative research is practised (Cahnmann-Taylor and Siegesmund, 2008; Smith and Dean, 2009; Barrett and Bolt, 2010; O’Toole and Beckett, 2010; Thomson and Sefton-Green, 2011; Nelson, 2013; Naughton et al, 2018). This book includes arts-based research, digitally mediated research, mobile methods, place-based research and transformative research frameworks such as participatory, feminist and activist research. As evaluation research is a key topic in contemporary education disciplines, we discuss what creative research methods can do to help question assumptions and expectations.

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This chapter attends to the ways creative research design can diverge from the Euro-Western conventions of designing research and how researchers position themselves in and with the research. The process of design directly influences each of the processes of the research and its outcomes. Creative research may be co-designed with research collaborators and participants, other artist-researchers, industry, funders, teachers, artist-students and/or others. Facilitation, collaboration and negotiation are key. This is how different perspectives, ideas and privileges all come into play with varying effects and affects that become a part of the methodological approach. How much of the research design is tied down in the beginning becomes a matter of methodology and the context. It is important to understand your context before you begin designing your research, so this chapter should be read in conjunction with Chapter 3, which covers context setting in detail.

Research design may become influenced by emergent forces through facilitation, collaboration and negotiation, and the gathering and analysis of data, which can be developed if allowance is made for the affordances and constraints that may occur. The chapter demonstrates how research design has a key relevance to the research to be carried out. We invite you to consider:

  1. how to design creative research for use in formal and informal educational settings;

  2. generating and working with research questions;

  3. engaging with partners and collaborators;

  4. developing over time: installations and participant engagement;

  5. creative cultural practices: weaving knowledge;

  6. designing good-quality research; and

  7. ethical considerations.

Designing research has as much to do with the research topic or question as with the process and outcome of the research.

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This chapter approaches the context of research and looks at different ways in which the researcher can work with creative methods to position self and others. In each case study the positionality of participants and/or researcher is unpacked to consider different ways of working in education research contexts. There is a focus on how educators work with different creative methods to illuminate lived experience, and specifically how this contributes to identifying the context. The chapter demonstrates how context has a key relevance to any research. We invite you to consider:

  • why context is important in research;

  • how to identify the context;

  • the place of the literature review in establishing the context;

  • different creative methods that support context setting;

  • creative ways to position self and others; and

  • ethical considerations that honour the context.

When we are researching, context is crucial. Context can be considered in multiple ways, such as the field you are researching in, the location of the research environment, your own context or positionality and the contexts of your participants and other actors within your research. The concept of context is a complex one. This chapter is designed to help you understand the importance of context(s) in research and gain insight into why and how you can work with context in your own research.

Your research needs to be positioned within the context of the field you are researching in. We often do this through a literature review. However, you need to be aware that not all research includes a literature review. For example, evaluation research often does not, though it may use a document analysis instead.

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