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Look at my eyes, theyre lush: representing mediated identities in longitudinal participatory research with children and young people in public care. Emma.

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Presentation on theme: "Look at my eyes, theyre lush: representing mediated identities in longitudinal participatory research with children and young people in public care. Emma."— Presentation transcript:

1 Look at my eyes, theyre lush: representing mediated identities in longitudinal participatory research with children and young people in public care. Emma Renold, Nicola Ross, Sally Holland and Alex Hillman Qualiti, Cardiff University

2 (Extra)ordinary lives: Childrens Everyday Relationship Cultures in Public Care (July 2006- April2008) Aims to enable a group of young people in care to produce their own accounts and representations of their everyday lives Enabling young peoples active participation in the project, giving choice over involvement, and the production and sharing of their narratives and representations (reflexive methodologies) Exploration of possibilities and challenges of young peoples participation in full research process Participants: 8 young people (age 10-20, 6 girls, 2 boys) in kinship care (3), foster care (4) and post-care independent living (1).

3 Location location … theoretical and methodological synergy Feminist poststructural perspectives: identity as contextual, multiple, embodied, dynamic, relational, performative etc. e.g. Subjectivity performativity, subjectification (Butler 1990); positioning (Davies and Harre 1991); power (Foucault 1987). Locating p/st notions of the subject with neo-liberal notions of the reflexive self and individualising psychological discourses of responsibility, change and choice Generate methodological techniques that can represent pushes and pull of humanist self (demand for coherence) and poststructuralist self (ambivalence and multiplicity)

4 Central substantive aim To take a collaborative ethnographic approach to explore the ordinary everyday relationship cultures, identities, social relations/networks (over time, in different spaces and contexts) of young people in care Central methodological aim To explore the ethical and analytic issues that are potentially raised and challenged by enabling young people to choose and define their own modes of representation and authorship Central substantive and methodological aims

5 Enabling young people to record and represent aspects of lives and identities (visually, textually, orally) Working collaboratively with new technologies during project sessions Researchers conducting an ethnography of this process Multi-media project sessions

6 Disrupting the researcher gaze, forced telling, and researching subjectivity in new times Experimental and participatory methods that support diverse representations that detach yet recognise attachment to linear moorings of modernist subject (Davies et al. 2006) Attending to young peoples own cultures of communication and participation (e.g. traditional interview techniques well worn in social work practice) Rupturing the practices of forced telling (historically classed and gendered) and its intensification in lives of children in public care. Considering the socio-cultural context in which spectacular subjectivities (Dovey 2000) and the DIY self are frequently compulsory popularised projects.

7 The making and editing of subjectivity What is the role of visual methods in ethnographic explorations of children and young peoples cultures and social identities in socio-cultural context in which the self is so spectacularly foregrounded? How do participants relationships to the visual (in society and culture) and visual technology (photograph to moving image) mediate the representations of their everyday lives and subjectivities?

8 Keely and Nevaeh Shared care histories –Voluntary care –Nomadism –Conflict and violence –Ambivalent (gendered) subjectivities Self-reflexive (the self-monitoring and making of the self) structurally reflexive (reflecting upon rules and resources and thus conditions for agency) Engagement and disengagement with visual technologies and generation of visual data in dialogue with experience of living in/with the visual (home/body)

9 Visual data generated by Keely and Nevaeh Keely Visual Summary 998 photographs – inc. her foster family(500), self portraits (145), Keely and/with/or her friends or birth family, pets, animals, places and belongings (plus 20 taken on Emmas phone of her eyes). 4 camvids – Keely and friends dancing, her/friends dogs. 6 video recordings and edits –Footage/photos of Keely and foster family (1 hour). –Footage/photos of Keely, her birth/foster families, edited with video diary footage (1 hour). –Footage of car journey to/from former home locality (1 hour) –Footage from last project session (2 min) –Edit Doggy Doog – of foster brother and pet dogs (9 min). –Slideshow of photos taken on trip to former home locality Nevaeh Visual Summary 75 photos – inc. 24 of her foster family (2 with Nevaeh), 30 of her boyfriend/his family/their friends (9 with Nevaeh), 17 of her flats, and 3 self portraits. 1 video - mainly Nevaeh filming at a wedding (10 min)

10 Visual methods and structural reflexivity: familiarity and competence Maintaining and protecting editorial control over visual representations –Nevaeh (non-user): rejecting camcorder, choosing camera –Keely (expert user): taking-up camcorder (prepares rehearsed script for video diary )

11 I bring the camera out of the bag and this sparks another conversation about what Nevaeh would like to explore in her identity project. Ive really thought about this she starts, and continues to tell me (wish I had it on tape) how shes carefully considered the pros and cons of using the camcorder versus using the digital camera. Although she hasnt used a camcorder before, and initially the novelty of it seemed enough of a reason to use it, shes decided that shed much rather use stills (digital camera). When I asked her why, she explained that it was because she could capture exactly what she wanted with a still camera and that moving images and the spontaneity of the camcorder might pick up bits of conversation etc. that she might not want to share with others (us?). (ER field notes 29.11.06, out of session contact at Nevaehs flat)

12 Oh that one is well, look at my hair, it is just a mess that one … Terrible, what is that all about. That is me, look at the state of my flat … Yes, Christmas day, that is me, I am much bigger than both of them (foster mum and dad). Me and [foster dad]. He always winds me up. That is me, look at the state of me. … Yes, look at this, she is speaking she is and you can see and she (foster mum) is saying I havent done my hair.

13 I wouldnt say I was a proper tomboy. It was just, there wasnt anything I could find that would look good on me. Ive always been big. IU always have as far as I can remember. But when I reached twelve I really … went big. My shoulders went bi, but thats puberty, you know, but I went really big and people noticed. It was just like a little, it was big. And I used to get called names. (…) Do you know, I used to cry myself to sleep and hopefully like wake up in the morning skinny and stupid things like that

14 NEVAEH: Yeah, Im gonna have like that on the opposite wall. Like a big one. I dunno. Its going to be lush. Its gonna be modern, really modern. I want it to be - like my flat now is, I feel is always cluttered. Theres too much there. Cant move really. So Im going to have everything all nice and fresh and… thats what Im picturing my flat is. Clean and fresh. The only problem is, like my bathroom is going to be, I planned everything down to the… Emma: You havent, you havent met the flat yet have you? You havent found a flat? No. NEVAEH: No, no, (laughing) but I just know just everything Im having. Emma: How long have you had this in your head for? NEVAEH: Since I moved into the hostel. And Ive been nine months in the hostel and six months in this place. So you can imagine how excited Im getting, its unbelievable.

15 Emma:Ah, okay. So moshers more hardcore than a punk. Keely:Yeah. Emma:More – more into it. Keely:Yeah and erm punks are into it but not as much, and goths are just full on bumf. And emos are just better – worse than goths; theyre like slicers, thats heavy. Emma:Slicers? Keely:Just look at the eyes … their eyes, they have wicked eyes. Im loving the eyes … my eyes. Emma:Their eyes? [Inaudible] Keely:Just forget about theirs. My eyes are lush. … Emma: So youre (inaudible) … you like the way you look – yeah? Keely: Mmm? Yeah. Emma: Yeah Keely: Thats what I say. I dont care what anyone thinks about me, if its what I wanna do Ill be like it. I dont care if I look like, say, that colour wouldnt suit me and if I went in like that colour with a bit of green mixed over there itd just look wrong wouldnt it? Id be like, yeah, I dont care, its my choice, my choice.

16 Exploring the extent to which the visual was engaged with by Keely and Nevaeh to express and represent the ways in which the visual impacted upon their everyday lives (past, present, future) –Significance of the performative DIY self in care as care-leaver –Compulsory reflexivity: not as choice as survivability Embodied-reflexivity/Domestic reflexivity (constant make-over) –Temporality Keely (here and now) Nevaeh (past and future)

17 To what extent do visual methods incite particular modes of engagement and representation? –What are the social and cultural norms of engagement for young people taking up the visual in a project that explicitly foregrounds identity and culture? –What economies of the visual are operating in the everyday lives of research participants? –How might we analyse our research participants visual representations of themselves/lives within a contemporary socio-cultural context in which discourses of compulsory individuality and reflexivity abound?

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