Research after the Event

By: John Freeman  

Researchers in the arts and social sciences often work on multiple projects simultaneously. We are by definition highly social in our professional and outreach relationships; working in the field of drama, with its innate focus on people and communities multiplies this social aspect. Qualitative approaches such as action research and autoethnography come together and are regularly employed in arts and education practices. In the example that follows, action research rubs up against the idea of research after the event; of research into action already taken. The aim of this paper is twofold. It describes a long-term relationship with a not-for-profit organisation, focusing on a particular project that used drama as a tool for building self-confidence and employability. At the same time, it reviews autoethnography as a participatory action research method, describing its distinctive features and questioning the relationship between empathy and exploitation, informed consent and participant-manipulation. This aspect is couched, in part at least, in terms of its own autoethnographical journey, one that interrogates the insider/outsider status of researchers whose work does not always sit comfortably within contexts of identity, identification and the increasing pressure to develop work that takes place behind closed doors into public-facing outputs.

Action Research, Autoethnography, Narrative writing, Empathy, Exploitation, Dissemination, Coercion, Drama
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

John Freeman

SL/Adjunct Professor, Drama, United Kingdom
West Yorkshire, United Kingdom