Benincasa-Sharman, Caterina Amanda (2016) What do they think? A potential research methodology for understanding identities of place from a community perspective. In: Managing Complex Social Housing Urban Redevelopment Though Improved Project mangement and Value Generation, 16th - 20th May 2016, Federal University Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. (Unpublished)

This research speculates that bringing together established and emerging research methodologies from brand ethnography, product design and community history could be beneficial to researchers working to understand communities’ relationships to place making and the unmaking of place

The user as consultant or subject for observation is not new. Sensorial ethnographic data capture (Pink, 2013) and user-centered research methodologies for co-design are rich, efficient ways of capturing, interpreting and applying real-world strategies for responsive design iterations; work by Cooper & Press, IDEO, RCA and Huddersfield University Product Design students and staff attest to this.

In the field of community history, collaboration known as co-production enables data capture strategies and their outcomes to become anterior to the historian (Lloyd & Moore and Pente et Al, 2015). A given community can negotiate what the outcome of their participatory research will be, e.g. digital oral histories, an exhibition, a publication.

So what might this hybrid methodology look like? Researcher(s) could brief the user-community as to what they need to find out, but the methodology and output be negotiated between the parties involved. Researchers may need to re-present the data in alternative formats for post research analysis, for clients and other audiences.

Academics and agencies working with(in) any community bring ethical parameters in to play. Some ethical and social issues can be anticipated but others may emerge and will need to be responsively negotiated and reflected upon (Banks & Manners, 2012).

Within a built environment context where place making or unmaking data is sought from a user-community, a research methodology that melds co-design and co-production might be more efficacious than more common methodologies such as observations, questionnaires, focus groups or interviews. It is hypothesized that this hybrid methodology could empower the subject to communicate with less constraints, allowing for richer and thicker meanings to emerge.


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