Between Art and Social Science: Scenic Composition as a Methodological Device


  • Lynn Froggett University of Central Lancashire
  • Mervyn Conroy University of Birmingham
  • Julian Manley University of Central Lancashire
  • Alastair Roy University of Central Lancashire



scenic composition, associative thinking, creative writing, psychosocial research, new media, public engagement, literary analysis, street drinking, psychoanalysis


The scenic composition (SC) is a methodological device enabling the synthesis and articulation of researchers' own complex experiences of events witnessed during data collection. Positioned between art and social science, it makes use of literary conventions to synthesise "experience near" accounts of data for interpretation. This article explains how the SC is composed by drawing on associative thinking and illustrates its use within a specific case study. The conceptual basis of the SC is discussed with reference to the work of LORENZER, WINNICOTT and BION. This is the first study in which four compositions, each by a different researcher, have been used to provide a multi-faceted view of a complex event, a live webcast. The compositions are presented along with researchers' reflections. Common themes and significant differences relating to life situations, histories and dispositions of the researchers emerge. The differences were expressed through choice of literary genres, which are common cultural resources. We ask what was achieved through the use of SCs compared with a thematic analysis of the webcast, and find that apart from synthesising and presentational functions, they give access to a multi-sensory range of researchers' experiences, including unconscious elements which were then available for reflexive interpretation by an interpretation panel.



Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Lynn Froggett, University of Central Lancashire

Lynn FROGGETT is Professor and Director of the Psychosocial Research Unit at the University Central Lancashire, UK, and Research Professor at the University of Stavanger Norway. She has a cross-disciplinary formation in the humanities and social sciences and a particular interest in developing empirical methodologies that bridge the two domains. Recent research projects are in the socially engaged arts, arts and health, third sector community organisations and citizenship, networks of helping and informal care. She is a founding member of the Association for Psychosocial Studies and the International Research Group for Psychosocietal Analysis and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Mervyn Conroy, University of Birmingham

Mervyn CONROY is a Senior Fellow at the Health Services Management Centre in the School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham. He is co-director of the Leadership for Health Services Improvement MSc and module co-director for Leadership in Context and Applied Leadership Learning. He has worked in the British National Health Service as a clinician, manager and researcher and acted as the lead on a range of health and care related research and consultancy projects. His recent research and publications include the application of Žižekian and MacIntyrian theorising to health and social care leadership issues such as care standards, community engagement and under capacity in the context of mental health, substance abuse and the care of older people.

Julian Manley, University of Central Lancashire

Julian MANLEY researches at the Psychosocial Research Unit, University of Central Lancashire. The main focus of his research emanates from the development of theories arising from the study of social dreaming and related visual methodologies. To this end, he is Chair of the Academic Research Committee of the Gordon Lawrence Foundation for the promotion of social dreaming, and member of the Association for Psychosocial Studies. Related areas of interest include experiential group work, the relationship between affect and image, the "shared unconscious", and inter-subjectivity in a postmodern environment. He is a member of the Climate Psychology Alliance that pursues an understanding of psychosocial attitudes to climate change.

Alastair Roy, University of Central Lancashire

Alastair ROY is Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Psychosocial Research Unit at the University of Central Lancashire. His work in the field of substance misuse explores the relationship between the socially engaged arts and health, welfare and justice. He is a member of the Association for Psychosocial Studies and the European Society for Social Drug Research. Recent work includes leading an Economic and Social Research Council funded Knowledge Transfer project using walking tour methods to explore recovery from substance misuse, and ADDICT, the first artist led inquiry that explores addiction and recovery funded by the Welcome Trust.




How to Cite

Froggett, L., Conroy, M., Manley, J., & Roy, A. (2014). Between Art and Social Science: Scenic Composition as a Methodological Device. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 15(3).



Single Contributions