Blog: Taking Yourself Seriously - Project Summary


Kate Pahl, Principle Investigator of the Taking Yourself Seriously Project, shares some of the findings of the project:

The ‘Taking Yourself Seriously’ project emerged from an original AHRC funded project that identified that artists took a number of roles within community/university projects. They could be used instrumentally to disseminate findings, through exhibitions or run workshops, they could be more integrated into the design of the project, or they could work with partners to make something new. Community cohesion is much used within local authority contexts as a term to aspire to, but ways of doing that remain under researched. Artists can support ways of knowing that might not be visible to everyone.

We worked with people from Sheffield and Rotherham to explore the contribution artists made to social cohesion contexts. Working in three sites; a school, an adventure playground and with a group of Muslim women, we worked to develop an understanding of the role of artists. Our project was informed by a Critical Thinking Group that was able to reflect on the work. We produced a literature review (see here: and have reflected on our work in a retreat (see here:

Our findings include the following:

  1. History is important.
  2. Artistic approaches are important.
  3. Dialogue and collective action are important.
  4. Social cohesion and integration do not mean the same thing.
  5. Lived values and valuing the unexpected are important.
  6. Shared values are linked to trust.
  7. Deprivation is a real threat.
  8. Social cohesion involves co-production.
  9. Social cohesion is a process.
  10. Place is important, as is valuing where you live.
  11. Citizenship, civic engagement and social cohesion, integration are linked concepts yet hold their own definitions.

The research was a chance to enact social cohesion in the project, we learned from each other and our learning was located within communities and within practice.

For more information contact Kate Pahl, PI of the project on

The project outputs and reports are available on the website –