The Making of Harry and Susie Get Married?: A Performative Approach to Data Collection


  • Yvonne Robinson London South Bank University



participants, power, participatory theatre, performative methods, (re)presentation, research practice, authenticity, viable data


This paper examines the potential impact and practical difficulties of using arts-based tools for the collection of social scientific data. It draws upon research which examines the experiences of ex/recovering addicts/alcoholics involved as participants in a participatory theatre initiative. The author's interest is in exploring performative methods as tools capable of engaging with the realities of research participants. The analysis focuses on participant perceptions of the initiative and on the viability of the data produced through performative and collaborative interaction. The author argues that a performative approach to data collection offers ways forward, despite some limitations, by offering participants more power over the (re)presentation of their voices. The author explores some of the possibilities for the re-envisioning of performative methods, focusing in particular on the extent to which the initiative can be understood as a focus group discussion. The paper highlights the importance of a performative approach for transcending the traditional representational constraints of academia and engaging with knowledge rooted in the experiences of socially marginalised groups. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0802478


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Author Biography

Yvonne Robinson, London South Bank University

Dr Yvonne ROBINSON is a Research Fellow in the Families and Social Capital Group at London South Bank University. Her background is in Human Geography and her broad research interests are in race, ethnicity and youth studies, education and the arts.




How to Cite

Robinson, Y. (2008). The Making of Harry and Susie Get Married?: A Performative Approach to Data Collection. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(2).