Conference Report: Circles within Circles—Qualitative Methodology and the Arts: The Researcher as Artist


  • Paul Wainwright Kingston University and St George's University of London
  • Frances Rapport Swansea University



new qualitative methodologies, process, representation, arts-based methodology, narrative-based methodology, re-defined methodology, the arts


This short report describes a qualitative research colloquium in Swansea, UK, supported by AstraZeneca. The meeting was chaired by Frances RAPPORT and Paul WAINWRIGHT and was attended by 40 participants, representing a range of professional and academic backgrounds from the UK and beyond. The colloquium, built on the idea of links between new qualitative methodologies and the arts, sought to explore what happens when researchers and artists talk to one another; the premise was that qualitative research and the arts have much in common. Presentations from qualitative methodologists and artists were scheduled to run in parallel with one another. Artists and researchers were encouraged to discuss their work in terms of the productive process and expressive representation and to share applications and ideas. Recurrent themes centred on form, structure, content and meaning. The message that emerged from the two days was that the artistic creative process and qualitative research are inextricably bound up with these concerns. Artist and researcher take experience and seek to translate it into a form that others can in turn experience and interpret. This requires an engagement on the part of researcher and artist, a commitment to being truthful rather than being on a quest for truth. Qualitative research and the creative or performative process thus have strong similarities, of process and outcome. However, there are also fundamental differences in the social complexities of the two practices, their goals and purposes, and the intentions that lie behind them. Nevertheless, artists, performers and qualitative researchers appear to have much in common and the possibilities for future collaborations of this kind look very exciting. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs070358


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Author Biographies

Paul Wainwright, Kingston University and St George's University of London

Paul WAINWRIGHT is Dame Muriel Powell Professor of Nursing in the Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, Kingston University and St George's, University of London. His research interests include the ethics and philosophy of nursing, the medical humanities, and research that informs the practice of nursing. He is currently working on a range of projects concerning the nature of dignity and respect in nursing practice and the role of values in decision making.

Frances Rapport, Swansea University

Frances RAPPORT is a social scientist with a background in the arts. She is Reader in Qualitative Health Research at the School of Medicine, Swansea University, and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Her research interests include innovative methodological approaches to qualitative health research, advances in the field of qualitative methodology in healthcare and the social sciences and assisted reproductive technology medicine. She has written extensively about the scope of new qualitative methodologies for research in the health services; see for example: RAPPORT F. (Ed.). (2004). New Qualitative Methodologies in Health and Social Care Research, Routledge, London). RAPPORT is currently exploring "within-method" approaches and inter-textual data analysis to study general practitioners and pharmacists' reflections on inhabited workspaces.




How to Cite

Wainwright, P., & Rapport, F. (2007). Conference Report: Circles within Circles—Qualitative Methodology and the Arts: The Researcher as Artist. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(3).



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