Loughborough University
Thesis-2016-vanRomondtVis.pdf (7.1 MB)

Changing social scientific research practices: negotiating creative methods

Download (7.1 MB)
posted on 2016-09-30, 15:37 authored by Pauline van Romondt Vis
In recent decades social scientists have started to use qualitative creative methods1 more and more, because of epistemological and methodological developments on the one hand and demands of innovation by governmental funding agencies on the other. In my thesis I look at the research practices of social scientists who use these qualitative creative methods and answer the following main research question: How are practices and approaches from the arts (specifically visual lens-based arts, poetry, performance and narrative) negotiated in social scientific research practice? This question has been divided into the following three sub-questions: 1) How do social scientists negotiate the use of creative methods with other members of their research community? 2) How do social scientists negotiate the use of creative methods into their own research practices? 3) And how do creative methods emerge in the process? Using Lave and Wenger's approach to communities of practice (1991; Wenger, 1998) and Ingold and Hallam's (2007) conceptualisation of improvisation for my theoretical framework, I look at these practices as constantly emerging and changing, but at the same time determined by those same practices. Based on ongoing conversations with postgraduate research students, interviews with experienced researchers, participant observation at conferences and videos of my participants' presentations, I conclude that the use of creative methods is always embedded within existing research practices. When this is not the case, either participants themselves or other academics experience the creative methods as problematic or even as non-academic. In those cases boundarywork (the in- and exclusion of what is deemed academic) is performed more fiercely, making it difficult, if not impossible for creative methods to be truly innovative in the sense that it means a break with previous practices. Instead, we see small shifts in participants' academic practices and how creative methods are taken up in these practices. This means improvisation is a more apt term to describe how creative methods are making their way into social scientific research practices/into the social sciences. As such this conclusion has consequences for the way we think about learning methods, the production of knowledge, innovative methods and (inter)disciplinarity.


Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


© Pauline van Romondt Vis

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en