In an article in The Qualitative Report (Vol 17: 18, 1-8) published electronically recently, I make a case for the potential of arts-based social science to reach audiences and engage communities
Entitled, “Connecting Research with Communities through Performative Social Science” (PSS), the paper contextualises both the use of the Arts in Social Science, as well as the utility of Social Science in the Arts and Humanities. PSS is conceived of as a fusion of the Arts and Social Sciences, creating a new paradigm where tools from the Arts and Humanities are explored for their utility in enriching the ways in which we investigate Social Science subjects and involve communities in our research efforts and diffusion of our collaborative endeavours. Performative Social Science is redefined in terms of a synthesis that can break down old boundaries, open up channels of communication and empower communities through engagement.
The article harks back the beginnings of PSS by recalling the influential AHRC funded series of workshops, “Social Science in Search of its Muse” held at BU throughout 2006-07, reported in a short video. This was followed by a Special Issue on Performative Social Science for the online, qualitative journal, Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Jones et al., May, 2008), providing a wide range of examples and manifestations of PSS, with contributions from various disciplines/subject areas, and realized through a wide variety of approaches to research practice.
Since these early efforts in PSS, the impact of these explorations has been measurable, including several completed PhDs utilizing principles of PSS, many journal articles, films and conference presentations nationally and internationally and further funding by Research Councils UK of research based in Performative Social Science methods.
I then turn to examples from my own work to illustrate what happens when Art talks to Social Science and Social Science responds to Art. The benefits of such interaction and interdisciplinarity are outlined in relation to a recently completed project using multi-methods, which resulted in the production and current dissemination of the professional short film, Rufus Stone.
I conclude that “Performative Social Science provides the overarching intellectual prowess, strategies and methodological and theoretical bases to engage and unite scholars across disciplines and, in turn, connect researchers’ endeavours with communities and stakeholders. Performative Social Science or a fusion of the arts and sciences are central to both community engagement and as catalysts for change”.