Researching young people’s orientations to the future: the methodological challenges of using arts practice


Resource authors: Dawn Lyon and Giulia Carabelli

Visual and arts-based methods are now widely used in the social sciences. In youth research they are considered to promote engagement and empowerment. This article contributes to debates on the challenges of using arts-based methods in research with young people. We discuss the experience of a multidisciplinary project investigating how young people imagine their futures – Imagine Sheppey – to critically consider the use of arts-based methods and the kinds of data produced through these practices. We make two sets of arguments. First, that the challenges of participation and collaboration are not overcome by using apparently ‘youth-friendly’ research tools. Second, that the nature of data produced through arts-based methods can leave researchers with significant problems of interpretation. We highlight these issues in relation to the focus of this project on researching the future.

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