Victoria J Brown
Understanding and Communicating Blight
Future Fear: Present Grief
Emotion has recently been recognised as crucial for successful adaptation and how we relate to the environment and climate change. There has however been little implementation of emotional methods to explore these relationships and the geographies of hope and futurity. In recent research I have utilised art, poetry and reflection to investigate loss and emotional blockage in eroding coastal villages, and the manifestation of future fears in the present as blight accelerates and augments its effects. Art and creative methodologies are vital as therapy and counselling towards envisaging new positive futures and coping with, and adjusting to the loss of what is. Moreover, along with employing methodologies sensitive to the emotional situation as a researcher I myself reflected upon the mood and repeated themes in the field immersing myself in the situation. To fully understand the villagers reactions and aim to help them see new possibilities for the future it was impossible to be the objective detached researcher. Indeed it would have hindered the research as in order to comment upon the loss of home and village, that could well be the outcome of this continued and accelerating erosion, one must as the common adage says 'walk a mile in their shoes'.
The autumn and winter of 1945 witnessed the return of 38,000 British servicemen from three and a half years of incarceration as prisoners of war (POWs) in the Far East. My father was one of these POWs. In my research I examine the consequences for the families of this ‘forgotten’ chapter of World War Two, in particular how the return of the POWs affected the children. Childhood, for some, was coloured by overt physical or psychological trauma; for others, what passed as a ‘normal’ upbringing led much later in life to a pressing desire to discover more about their fathers’ wartime histories. By engaging with ideas of intergenerational transmission, postmemory, memory practices, and reconciliation, I trace how the displacements and sequelae of prisoner of war existence reverberate down the decades, and how the children’s early experiences continue to trickle, or burst, through into the present.
In this presentation, I set out to convey the drive and urgency of those children as they - and I - struggle to make sense of our pasts in the present. Drawing on material from in-depth psychosocial interviews, and my research journals and autoethnographic reflections, I aim to adopt a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach, suffusing my presentation with the lived, emotional experience of the research process. For me at least, this will be an experimental and risky mode of presentation, but one which I hope will be a creative response to your invitation to reflect on the direction of ‘emotionally-charged social science research’.
The Emotions and Food Geographies among Hakka People in China: An Inquiry about Methods
Emotions in food need to be carefully examined in terms of feelings and experience in everyday dietary practice. The emotional aspects of food are critical to an understanding of the relationship between the material and immaterial in the food domain; they help to clarify the interaction, translation and negotiation between the material and immaterial. In particular, the Hakka group can be said to be characterised by an emphasis on traditional domestic diet, food events celebrating education milestones and an abiding concern for family and clan history. It is argued that the examination of the visceral experiencing and the collective and individual emotions in terms of the sensory experience of food (taste, smell, sight, touch, etc.) is necessary for the topic. The methods include the visceral experience of food (Hayes-Conroy and Martin, 2010), Dance Movement Therapy (McCormack, 2003) and semi-structured interviews. The expected results are that emotions and food are mutually constructed and material food activities may act as representations of emotions, with the visceral experience functioning as the intermediary or catalyst in these processes. However, I want to ask some questions: how to do the visceral research? I want to know the comparisons between emotional methodologies related to this topic. What are the do's and don'ts we have to notice? What are the relations and reflection between the emotions and the material? What is the difference or connection between the emotion and the immaterial? How is the connection from the emotions to the identity/belonging?
Emotion & the researcher: 14:45-15:30 Session 3a: Rupal Patel & Jodie Pennacchia, Elsie Whittington, Joseph De Lappe (Room LR111)
Rupal Patel & Jodie Pennacchia
Silencing emotional responses and neglecting social justice: ethical dilemmas for young female researchers
Undertaking policy-orientated qualitative research that foregrounds questions of social justice can generate data in which emotional responses, political views, and differences of opinion are endemic. This paper explores these issues by drawing on qualitative fieldwork from two PhD studies. We question the extent to which we, as young female researchers, have an ethical duty to challenge views that are inherently sexist as they arise in fieldwork, since they go against our social justice agenda by perpetuating gender-based inequalities. In this self-reflexive paper we challenge ourselves to explore why we chose not to contest instances of sexism as they arose during fieldwork.
We argue that feelings of anxiety and gratitude, alongside the ideals we had acquired through our research training of the ‘professional’ and ‘successful’ PhD researcher, were at the heart of our decision-making. In these fieldwork ‘moments’ we prioritised our research relationships over the confrontation of sexist remarks. However, post-data collection, in a process of shared reflexivity, narratives of fear and guilt emerged. These narratives presented a dilemma between the fear of failure and social discomfort, and feelings of guilt that we had seemingly ignored moments of gender injustice.
We conclude by discussing the particular difficulties that can face novice female researchers as they navigate diverse research contexts. We highlight the importance of allowing time for reflection to work through the emotional impact of fieldwork, to enable a critical perspective of the dominant notions of the ‘professional’ and ‘successful’ PhD researcher, and to revisit the ethical underpinnings of our research.
Enabling revealing research: managing, minimising or masking emotion?
“Asking ourselves and young people what we think consent means is revealing”
Reflecting on the process of planning a participatory action research project with young people on the sensitive topic of sexual consent this paper will consider how group and creative methodologies can recognise and ‘manage’ emotion.
The use of ‘distancing techniques’ is often advised when working in groups or with sensitive and personal issues. Following Frost (2003) I would like to give the potentially emotional nature of my research topic a method that ‘might start a process whereby private, unarticulated feelings which remain concealed in an interview or group discussion.. can find expression’ (126).
By considering and developing visual, creative and embodied group methods for exploring sexual consent I have had to recognise the potential for discomfort, difficult emotions and disclosures. The use of mind mapping, body mapping, and scenario based discussion can give respondents the opportunity to express feelings that may be difficult to verbalise and also provide an important opportunity for distancing.
This paper will question the extent to which these methods manage, minimise or mask emotions, and thus reinforce or disrupt the notion that the topic of sexual consent it too ‘risky’ to discuss publicly.
Joseph De Lappe
“I’m sorry, do you need a counsellor? I’m not that type of researcher…”: Handling unexpected, framed emotional disclosure in online Skype interviews by asexual activists.
This presentation is about how one handles the disclosure of extreme, often rehearsed, emotionally distressing, biographical details by research participants. This is further magnified and emphasised through the methodological lens of a research method such as online Skype interviews.
You know how it is…
Your ethics application has sailed through the University Research & Ethics Committee stage. In particular you feel, I felt, like you’ve fixed/covered all of the issues about researching responsibly with human participants. I’d read all of the key texts, especially Hammersley & Atkinson (2007). Hell, Martyn Hammersley was even part of my supervisorial team. It was he who suggested that I change my research methodology, from face-to-face interviews with mostly British asexual activists recruited through snowballing, to online Skype interviews with asexual activists all over the world who self-selected.
He thought that this would be far more innovative and illustrative of my doctoral project which is to have asexual activists tell asexual stories (Plummer 1995) of why asexual activism has emerged as a sexual and gender social movement at this point in time, and, what relationship it has to the wider Pride/LGBT+ movements. I agreed with Martyn and proceeded with the Skype interviews.
However my research participants, as activists, often framed those stories to include highly charged and emotive biographical details that increasingly left me feeling vulnerable, particularly as these biographical details often felt rehearsed and performed. It increasingly made me consider who was acting responsibly and ethically in the research relationship, especially when research participants, as activists with an agenda, were neither naïve nor concerned with the researcher.
Emotions Confined: Working with Emotions & Mothers in Criminal Justice.
Since 1995 the female prison population has doubled. In 1995 6,000 children were affected annually by maternal incarceration – in 2015 The Prison Reform Trust suggest this figure is closer to 18,000. Ergo 18000 children and on average 12000 mothers annually are all experiencing a plethora of emotions triggered by a separation that arguably neither would wish for but all are deeply affected by.
Research such as that of Hedderman (2004), Gelsthorpe & Worrall (2009) and the Corston report (2007) have proved invaluable and insightful in terms of understanding the ‘cost’ of imprisoning mothers, financially, psychologically and emotionally in relation to women and their children. Indeed valuable and influential research in relation to women and their lived experience of custody also exists, (Devlin 1998: Carlen 2004 : Padel 1988) Furthermore there is an ever growing strand of research in relation to Emotion and Criminal Justice (Jewkes 2012: Crawley 2011 :Crewe 2014 ) However there is little in published existence which brings Emotion, Mothers and Criminal justice together.
This paper seeks to discuss the justification for exploring such an emotive topic , how best it might be achieved and what value such research together with developed understanding might have in relation to working with Mothers in the Criminal Justice System.
Is a doctoral researcher, tutor, and research assistant in sociology at the University of Edinburgh. Her research pertains to emotions in social movements, particularly feminism, and how social movement emotion cultures are constructed in and through documents.
Researchers studying emotions sociologically through the use of documentary data are confronted with a variety of questions which may challenge their pre-existing understandings not only of their own positionality in relation to their research, but also of what it means to 'read' emotion in a document: Where do the emotions in my data end and my own emotions begin, and what does it mean for emotion to be 'in' a document? Should my emotions 'be kept out of' the research or used as an analytic tool? Am I an insider or an outsider to the emotional cultures or regimes I am studying, and how can I ascertain this when working with documentary data? Drawing on reflections from my own ongoing research, I will explore some approaches to answering these questions as they bear specifically on the documentary researcher. Through the use of emotional and methodological reflexivities, researchers can establish some clarity about their position as emotional subjects in relation to their documentary data sources, and can then utilise this understanding when making decisions throughout the analytic process about how, and to what extent, their own emotions can be utilised in the research.
Developing an academic identity - It’s not easy being ME!
Challenging behaviour in children can be really… well, challenging! Challenging behaviour amongst researchers can be even harder to handle – for their supervisors and colleagues - and for themselves! How do you ‘handle’ a creative researcher who is reluctant to use academic language, actively welcomes emotions in research, refuses to put away their toys and insists on playing at every opportunity? What about when they influence and inspire others to do the same? Perhaps most challenging of all is my preference for first-person language in recognition that I am embedded and embodied within my research.
I will be exploring what it means to be ‘different’. Some of the questions I will be asking:
· Different from what…?
· What role does emotion play in my research?
· Does this approach affect my credibility - is it wise to be ‘childish’?
· Will my research be perceived as insignificant if it is communicated in a playful way?
I will also be asking you some key questions for you to consider about yourselves – after all, despite the title, it’s not all about me!
· What about you, how different do you think you are? What does that mean for you?
Research has greater impact at every level (personal, social and cultural) when we have the willingness to take risks, to break with the safety of tradition and to creatively be ourselves – but who is that? Perhaps I’m not being different, I’m just being ME? Let’s explore this together…
THE VOYAGE FROM PRACTITIONER TO RESEARCHER – STABILITY TO LIMINALITY
Having spent decades in practice, many professionals find the move into the world of academia challenging and problematic. Besides entering an unfamiliar milieu, the pedagogic demands of teaching and the pastoral care of students, there is the explicit academic expectation to engage with research. Prominent in the scholarly rite of passage (van Gennep, 1960) for the neophyte academic is embarking upon doctorate research and this paper considers the emotional and nuanced issues the passage from comfortable practitioner to challenged researcher has held for one retired detective. Whilst criminal investigation and academic research may have many functional similarities, a career embedded in a deep occupational culture cannot be shed overnight; the research process is sub-consciously influenced by the enduring emotional and cognitive imprint of practice.
Transition to the academic milieu should witness deep-rooted frames of reference transformed with a re-alignment of attitudes, understandings and points of view (Mezirow, 1991; Goffman, 1974). Empirical rigour and objectivity may conflict with profound subjective perspectives, motives and desire for personal catharsis, causing internal discords and tensions. These anxieties are unintended reflexive and emotional consequences (Merton, 1936) of the journey and it is argued that this constant turmoil of reflexivity (Hammersley and Atkinson, 2010) results in apprehensive liminality (Jewkes, 2005).
Proactive critical reflection (Schon, 1983; Fook, 2006) is one mechanism to ameliorate and facilitate effective emotional transformation and holds the prospect of bringing a balanced and independent perspective to the new research role. However, experience suggests it is difficult to completely eradicate an ingrained culture and personal history cultivated over a lifetime of practice leaving the researcher in a state of contested liminality.
“He did not see me as a woman, he saw me as a prostitute.” The Emotional Journey of Researching Domestic Violence.
Researching domestic violence is a challenging process. The researcher must be aware of both the emotions of their participants to ensure that they are not harmed by relaying details of traumatic experiences; and indeed they must be careful to manage their own emotions when hearing distressing accounts of such abuse.
My own research involves interviewing women who overstay their visas and experience domestic abuse. Using extracts from my empirical research, I will reflect on the emotive data gathered so far and the strategies which I have adopted to ensure that the emotional wellbeing of participants remains paramount. Indeed, it is vital that participants are not re-traumatised from sharing their experiences and it is important that I remain attuned to signs of emotional distress and be able to respond appropriately.
In addition to being sensitised to the emotional wellbeing of participants, accounts of domestic violence and abuse, like the one above, suggest that there is a need to be aware of my own emotions during fieldwork in hearing such distressing accounts. This paper will discuss both how I managed the dilemmas of conducting emotional research, and the strategies which I use to preserve my own emotional wellbeing during fieldwork.
PERMEABLE SELVES: AFFECT, SEDUCTION, AND APPRENTICING TO HETEROSEXUAL MASCULINITY IN NEW YORK CITY
From internet dating to the rise of going solo, transient intimacies amidst new forms of choosing gender have thrown into question historical taboos on masculine sexual inhibition in the formation of personality. This paper examines the role of emotional labor in remediating experiences of identity and sexual intimacy among heterosexual men in “seduction communities”: charm schools which train men to attract women. Considering how men in seduction communities construct and enact symbolic boundaries in their performances of seduction, this paper asks: What forms of community, solidarity, and intimacy among men does the affective labor of seduction skills create? Men report that practicing seduction techniques transforms their sense of embodiment, experiencing states of altered consciousness or “flow” that can even lead to feelings of addiction to performing seduction routines. Reflecting on the pitfalls of seduction as an exclusionary form of inclusion in the neoliberal city, this paper will present ethnographic evidence (from fieldwork carried out in New York City) of the ways in which power, vulnerability, and intimacy in affective labor among pickup artists can generate states of cognitive absorption; emotional ambivalence; and affective license and inhibition in these men’s embodiments of masculinity. I will argue that these performances, and the “homo-social” (Sedgwick 1985) relationships men form with other men in seduction communities, acts to revitalize an American ethics of self-discipline for men in precarious social and economic circumstances. At the same time, this presents fractures and opportunities for progressive politics around the cultural values of maleness in the United States.
‘Cultural Patchworking’: Creative Methodologies in Research on Love
Andrew Beatty urges that, while it is clear that there are “shared experiences or patterns of emotion that are culturally typical”, these do not contradict the unique, individual experience of emotion, “the individuality of the experiencing self” (2013:419). This paper will discuss some of the ways in which my doctoral research seeks to explore both this ‘experiencing self’, and the cultural context in which emotional experience occurs.
In my work on the relationship between love and sexuality, I have used a combination of more traditional qualitative interviews and small group discussions alongside more creative methodological tools. These have included participatory visual and textual collages, creative reflexive journals, a musical ‘mix tape’ and the sharing of ‘objects’ to explore individuals’ experiences of love, desire and sexuality and the relationships between them.
I argue that these creative approaches to studying emotional and bodily experience allow new entry points into conversations about potentially difficult, intimate, and abstract issues. Simultaneously, methodologies like these can help to produce a dynamic account of personal and interpersonal experiences of, and relationships to love, desire and sexuality, that is both uniquely personal and culturally situated.
Drawing from some of the data generated with my participants, I am to demonstrate the ways in which these methodologies can produce a richly textured and multi-dimensional picture of the lived experience of love and desire.
Dilemmas and dissonance in dealing with expected emotions in sensitive research
This paper reports on a qualitative study of young people’s experiences of living with a parent at the end of life. Both the context of the research (parental death) and the perceived vulnerability of participants (young people) raised expectations of the study being emotionally charged for participants and the researcher. In this paper, I explore the particular manifestation of emotion that was expected as a consequence of the research being defined as sensitive. I then outline the research dilemmas engendered by the pre-emptive characterisation of expected emotions. I argue that addressing expected emotion risks undermining the need to maintain a state of ethical mindfulness towards the unique emotional composition of a research encounter and substitutes adherence to process for a proper assessment of researcher competence. The emphasis on expected emotion during the early stages of a research study may raise anxiety in the early career researcher and impact on data collection. Furthermore, reflexivity as a tool for the conduit of expected emotion is poorly defined in practice and potentially increases the vulnerability of the researcher in the absence of a well-defined support structure. Finally, I discuss the dissonance experienced when expected emotions are not encountered. I draw on my experience of conducting a PhD study on young people living with a parent at the end of life to explore the incongruence between expected and expressed emotion and to consider how attending to emotional dissonance may enhance data analysis.
'You always ask us how we feel?' : Uncovering emotions in research with young people as they think, plan and dream about their futures
Hope can be regarded by many as a transformative emotion which seeks something better (Ahmed 2010). My research explored working class young people’s aspirations towards the future and looked to investigate participation to higher education for those from underrepresented groups. For this research I used a range of participatory and creative techniques (e.g. rap, photovoice, mapping) with young people in school years 8 and 10. In this paper I explore how investigating aspiration as a form of hope uncovered various emotions in young people from those which can be considered hopeful and transformative to those which are more fearful and anxious in nature. I highlight some of the methodological ways in which I collected emotional data in the field (e.g. imaginative drawings). I argue that engaging with emotions in research is often a step into the unknown. What can be shared by participants and seen and observed by the researcher can often be superficial and yet I argue research which (expectedly or unexpectedly) considers emotions enables an understanding of the inner workings of people’s lives to emerge. Underneath the superficial social expectations which participants might share, often reveals a complex and messy social reality to people’s lives which is far removed from a nice, tidy social (Latour 2005). Here hopes and fears collide and social expectation clash with individual realism. Methodologically this can be challenging. I finish by questioning and reflecting on my role as researcher and problematize what it meant to engage with participants in an environment where emotions were affective and where I often found myself caught in the transmission of emotion.
Looks like we will have 17/18 submissions for the conference so it should be lively and well-attended. We'll definitely be having parallel sessions, but as there are quite a few other people coming there will be good audiences.
Looking forward to it now!!!
Looks like the conference will be busy...
We have just had three more abstracts in today so it's looking like the conference will be busy.
We're not sure yet if we'll have another call for papers as there's still a couple of people from the last call who said that they're in the middle of putting abstracts together.
So we may already be looking at parallel sessions, which we'd prefer not too, as part of the joy of these smaller postgraduate events is everyone being together and getting to network.
We'll shall have to see...
Interesting conference in Northampton:
The Psychology of Emotion and Feeling
Free Student Conference
8th of April 2015
This free one day student conference aims to provide a friendly and welcoming environment where students can explore the nature of emotion and feeling, and critically consider how this shapes our understanding of emotion today. Key themes in emotion and feeling based literature will be examined, providing students with the opportunity to consider future directions of research in this area.
For more info about submitting/booking your free ticket, go to:
Follow @Psych_ofEmoFeel for updates
All information is on our blogsite, including the conference themes: www.poef15.wordpress.com
This event is sponsored by PsyPAG