In June 2017, Porto (Portugal) and September 2017, Oxford (UK), Geoff Bright, Harriet Rowley and Janet Batsleer will be speaking at conferences hosted by the Journal Education and Ethnography.
In these papers they will be exploring the links between arts based practice, free-improv music performance and participation. They will also be exploring the role of youth workers as pedagogues and/or as facilitators or animateurs in relation to participation.
Find out the two abstracts below.
Lost and Found. Ethnographic Researcher and Arts Practitioners getting lost and coming home.
Dr Harriet Rowley, Janet Batsleer and Chris Charles
The relationship between arts practitioners, researchers, youth and community workers, social workers and young men living vulnerable and unhoused lives in Manchester City Centre is a complex and enduring one, dating back to the establishment of The Blue Room (now The Men’s Room) a decade ago. Between 2008 and 2010 using participant observation, Batsleer conducted an evaluation of The Blue Room, a combined arts and social work pedagogic space. In a later publication (2011) she explored the potential for arts-based strategies to open up communicative possibilities including those of advocacy, recognition and compassionate witnessing (Weingarten, 2000) as opposed to the tokenistic and controlled possibilities of giving voice awash in formal education and youth-based participation projects (Arnot and Reay, 2007).
In the most recent phase of the relationship, Rowley has undertaken eight months of ethnographic research through the Partispace Project, an EU horizon 2020 project investigating spaces and styles of youth participation across eight countries. In conjunction with this, an action research project was funded (EU and Kew Gardens) and co-designed with the then lead for creative engagement, Chris Charles. Chris was interested to provide progression opportunities by enabling a small and experienced core group of project participants to lead on an artistic project rather than work to a design created by an arts practitioner. Lost and Found aimed to highlight a series of critical issues facing the street homeless community in Manchester through a series of installations formed as planters with light boxes. The project culminated in a series of walking tours led by the artists where the installations were placed around the city centre and a film documentary was made.
The ethnographic research process was one of socio-cultural accompaniment and this process will be presented and analysed in the paper. It will further explore ideas of advocacy, recognition and compassionate witnessing to develop an account of the forms of relationality within the Men’s Room as a network of actors. Building on this conceptualisation, it will ask whether this form of practice can be seen to constitute an address to epistemic injustice and will consider the forms of public and of politics (Hickey-Moody, 2013) to which this project points.
Arnot, M, Reay, D. (2007) A sociology of pedagogic voice, power, inequality and pupil consultation. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education. 28 311-325
Batsleer, J. (2011) Voices from an edge. Unsettling the practices of youth voice and participation: arts-based practice in The Blue Room, Manchester. Pedagogy, Culture and Society 19 (3) 419-434
Hickey-Moody, A. (2013) Youth, Arts and Education Reassembling Subjectivity through Affect. London Routledge
Weingarten, K. (2000). Witnessing, wonder, and hope. Family Process.39 (4), 389-402
Forms of socio-accompaniment in participation and ethnography
The purpose of this paper is to explore the practice of socio-cultural accompaniment as a pedagogic device within a specific community-based setting and as a methodological approach to doing ethnography. The endeavor aims to make a contribution to how styles of participation are understood within youth and community-based settings but also relational aspects of researching with ‘vulnerable’ participants and the impact of this on the research process.
PARTISPACE, is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project investigating spaces and styles of youth participation across eight cities. The Men’s room is an arts and social care homelessness charity and one of the selected sites for the city case study of Manchester. PARTISPACE starts from the assumption that there is a relation between the apparent lack of participation among young people on the one hand, and the prevalence of ideological and discursive limitations of what is recognised as participation on the other. Therefore activities of young people are analysed as potentially participatory which are carried out in the public and/or addressing the public. Within this broader understanding of participation and with homelessness visibly on the rise in the city, The Men’s room offers an empirically rich case study site and the opportunity to build upon existing work (Batsleer, 2011; Batsleer and Hughes, 2012).
In the most recent phase of research, Rowley has undertaken eight months of ethnographic research, co-facilitating an action research project entitled ‘Lost and Found’ which aimed to highlight a series of critical issues facing the street homeless community in Manchester through a series of art installations. The project culminated in a series of walking tours and a film documentary was made.
The ethnographic research process was one of socio-cultural accompaniment and drew upon feminist approaches to research, attempting to subvert hierarchies of knowledge by unsettling the presumed authority of the researcher whilst engaging in reflexivity (Enria, 2016; Reinharz, 1992). Participatory methods were utilised in an effort to honour the lived experiences of participants by providing a collaborative and action-orientated approach (Gatenby and Humphries, 2000). Arts-based strategies were positioned as having the potential to open up communicative possibilities including those of advocacy, recognition and compassionate witnessing (Batsleer, 2011).
This paper draws upon observational fieldnotes and interview data concerned with the enactment of socio-cultural accompaniment between workers and participants to afford knowledge on styles of participation but also reflections contained within fieldnotes about my involvement in this process as a consequence to the methodological approach.
Forms of accompaniment or ‘working alongside’ have a long history both in youth and community work and within feminist approaches to ethnography. In the former field, particularly in relation to detached or street work, such an approach claims to afford relationships, which are the most democratic forms of educational practice (Batsleer, 2016; Crimmens, 2004). In the latter, attempts to subvert power and answer the challenge of how to ‘produce different knowledge and to produce knowledge differently’ (Lather, 2002:200) need to be careful not to erase power differentials that ‘reduces otherness to sameness’ (Lather, 2009: 19) but build empathetic spaces (Enria, 2015). The findings presented as part of this paper will explore the opportunities that socio-cultural accompaniment affords in both respects but also critically assess the costs for those involved, together with the limitations of practice.
A number of key features of socio-cultural accompaniment as a pedagogic tool to foster participation will be explored. The central focus will be the practice of the lead creative for the Men’s room who was responsible for managing the majority of observed sessions and outreach work. In particular, the negotiation of power between himself and the participants, his role and status within the organisation and how this affected inter-group dynamics will be examined. The role of arts-based practice as opposed to social care in negotiation of boundary work, together with the emotional costs involved will also be an important feature.
In terms of socio-accompaniment process of the fieldwork, the findings will centralise upon key themes of reflexivity documented during my time in the field. In particular, I want to examine the relationships and co-creation of knowledge with participants in an attempt to mediate ‘other-ness towards ourness’ (Berne, 2014). I also want to interrogate the limits of intersubjectivity in respect to positionality and crises of faith as a response to the limits of responsibility and space of action possible during the research encounter.
Voice, recognition, mutuality, agency and self-care will thus be interwoven throughout the discussion of forms of socio-accompaniment in an attempt to further understand democratic forms of knowledge making.
Batsleer, J. (2016) Precarity, food and accompaniment in community and
youth work, Ethnography and Education, 11:2, 189-203
Batsleer, J. (2011). Voices from an edge. Unsettling the practices of youth voice and participation: arts-based practice in The Blue Room, Manchester. Pedagogy, Culture & Society. 19(3), pp.419-434.
Batsleer, J and Hughes, J. (2013) ‘Looking from the Other Side of the Street: Youth, Participation and Arts in the Edgelands of Urban Manchester’ in Tony Fry and Eleni Kalantidou ‘Design in the Borderlands: Contesting Globalism’. Routledge.
Berne, A. (2014) “Migration and Mobility Going Beyond Borders. What are the Implications for
Outreach work with Young People.” European Conference on Outreach Work. Oslo, Norway.
Crimmens, D. (2004) Reaching Socially Excluded Young People: A National Study of Street-
Based Youth Work. Leicester: Joseph Rowntree Foundation National Youth Agency.
Enria, L (2016) Co-producing knowledge through participatory theatre: reflections on ethnography, empathy and power. Qualitative Research. 16 (3) 319-329.
Gatenby, B and Humphries, M (2000) Feminist participatory action research: methodological and ethical issues. Women’s Studies International Forum 23(1): 89–105.
Lather, P (2002) Postbook: working the ruins of feminist ethnography. Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society 27(1): 199–227.
Lather, P (2009) Against empathy, voice and authenticity. In: Jackson AY and Mazzei LA (eds) Voice in Qualitative Inquiry: Challenging Conventional, Interpretive, and Critical Conceptions in Qualitative Research. New York: Routledge
Reinharz, S (1992) Feminist Methods in Social Research. New York: Oxford University Press.