The pleasure principle: employing arts-based methods in social work research

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    19 Citations (Scopus)


    This article considers how the arts can be used in research with service users as a critical praxis that fits with the ethos of social work research. It discusses a research project that took place at a Sure Start programme in North West England, UK. Sure Start is a government initiative working with families with pre-school-age children in the most socially and economically disadvantaged areas of the country. The project recruited local, working-class mothers to carry out research into the effectiveness of the programme and into their contemporaries’ experiences of parenting, often in poverty. It employed drama as a means of communicating the research findings, involving local mothers in constructing and performing two plays. One play took the form of an ‘ethnodrama’, whilst the other was influenced by pantomime. The paper looks at the context for applying this methodology and discusses the process of doing so. It then moves on to consider the success of the project, looking at various means of assessing the quality of arts-based research, which include the pleasure and enjoyment it brings. It concludes with the voices of some of the participants and their reflections on the process.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)532-545
    JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2012


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