Making Sense of a Changing Neighborhood: Art Students’ Experiences of Place Explored Through a Material-Discursive Analytical Lens

Keywords: arts-based research, sensory methodology, place, go-along interviews, material-discursive analysis


Sensory research approaches are often used to study the relationship between people and their living environment. The type of data collected in such research projects poses analytical challenges. How do we best make sense of a body of visual, auditory, tactile data? How do such data contribute to our knowing? In this paper, we propose and illustrate an analytical apparatus for studying the complex entanglement of discursive and material aspects of sensorial experiences related to place. Place-interactive methods such as sensory go-along interviews with art students and voice-giving procedures through the making of art works formed the basis for the analysis.

Author Biographies

Sara Coemans, University of Leuven

Sara Coemans is a PhD researcher at the Laboratory for Education and Society (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences) of the University of Leuven. In her research, she explores the potential of arts-based and multi-sensory approaches to study the relationship between people and their surroundings.

Joke Vandenabeele, University of Leuven

Joke Vandenabeele is associate professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (and part of the Laboratory for Education and Society) of the University of Leuven. She has developed her educational research in relation to two important social issues: the issue of solidarity and the issue of sustainability. She uses an action research approach to foster, both empirically and theoretically, a reflection on how community education emerges from what people actually do together and also how the materiality of a particular practice is part of this specific togetherness.

Karin Hannes, University of Leuven

Karin Hannes is associate professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences (Social Research Methodology Group) of the University of Leuven. Her main research interest is in developing, applying, and refining approaches to qualitative research. She is most known for her academic contributions in the area of qualitative evidence synthesis. On a primary research level, she has been focusing on the use and further development of arts-based, multi-sensory, and place-based research methods in the context of public health, social-cultural and social welfare practice.


Anderson, J. (2004). Talking whilst walking: A geographical archaeology of knowledge. Area, 36, 245-261.

Anderson, J., Adey, P., & Bevan, P. (2010). Positioning place: polylogic approaches to research methodology. Qualitative Research, 589-604.

Baldacchino, J. (2014). John Dewey. Liberty and the pedagogy of disposition. New York, NY: Springer.

Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. London: Duke University Press.

Blinded for peer review (2016).

Blinded for peer review (2018a).

Blinded for peer review (2018b).

Carpiano, R.M. (2009). Come take a walk with me: The go-along interview as a novel method for studying the implications of place for health and well-being. Health & Place, 15, 263-272.

Cele, S. (2006). Communicating place. Methods for understanding children’s experience of place. (Doctoral thesis). Stockholm University, Department of Human Geography.

Clark/Keefe , K. (2014). Suspended animation. Attuning to material-discursive data and attending via poesis during somatographic inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry, 20, 790-800.

Cahnmann-Taylor, M. & Siegesmund, R. (2018). Arts-based research in education. Foundations for practice (2nd edition). New York, NY: Routledge.

Chilton, G., & Leavy, P. (2014). Arts-based research practice: Merging social research and the creative arts. In P. Leavy (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of qualitative research (pp. 403-422). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience, Rahway, NJ: The Barnes Foundation Press.

Eisner, E. W. (1972). Educating artistic vision. Oxford, England: Macmillan.

Evans, J. & Jones, P. (2012). The walking interview: methodology, mobility and place. Applied Geography, 849-858.

Fox, N. J. & Alldred, P. (2015). New materialist social inquiry: designs, methods and the research-assemblage. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 18, 399-414.

Gannon, S. (2016). Local girl befriends vicious bear: unleashing educational aspiration through a pedagogy of material-semiotic entanglement. In C. A. Taylor & C. Hughes (Eds.), Posthuman Research Practices in Education (pp. 128-148).

Hook, D. & Glăveanu, V.P. (2013) Image analysis: an interactive approach to compositional elements. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 10, 355-368.

Hurdley, R. & Dicks, B. (2011). In-between practice: Working in the ‘thirdspace’ of sensory and multimodal methodology. Qualitative Research, 11, 277-292.

Ingold, T. (2010). Bringing things to life: Creative entanglements in world of materials. NCRM Working Paper Series. Retrieved from

Johnson, M. (2007). Dewey’s zen: The ‘oh’ of wonder. Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Columbia, SC.

Karel, E. (2013). Ernst Karel. Retrieved from

Kusenbach, M. (2003). Street phenomenology. The go-along as ethnographic research tool. Ethnography, 4, 455-485.

Leddy, T. (2016). Dewey's Aesthetics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from

Leuven MindGate (2018). Creativity. Retrieved May 4, 2018, from

Low, K.E.Y. (2015). The sensuous city: Sensory methodologies in urban ethnographic research. Ethnography, 16, 295 - 312.

MacLure, M. (2013). Researching without representation?: Language and materiality in post-qualitative methodology. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 26, 658–667.

Manning, E. (2009). Relationscapes: Movement, art, philosophy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Marin-Viadel, R., Roldan J., Genet, R., & Whiston Spirn, A. (2015). Visual arguments through visual image pairs and photo pairs in arts based research and artistic research on childhood and art education. Porto, Portugal.

Missotten, G. & Desmet, L. (2010). Vaartkom Weerspiegeld. Leuven: Stad Leuven.

O’Neill, M. & Hubbard, P. (2010). Walking, sensing, belonging: ethno-mimesis as performative praxis. Visual Studies, 25, 46-58.

Pink, S. (2007). Sensing Cittàslow: Slow living and the constitution of the sensory city. Sense and Society, 2, 59-77.

Pink, S. (2009). Doing sensory ethnography. London: Routledge.

Pink, S., Hubbard, P., O’Neill, M. & Radley, A. (2010). Walking across disciplines: From ethnography to arts practice. Visual studies, 25, 1-7.

Rose, G (2016). Visual methodologies: An introduction to researching with visual materials. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Rosiek, J.L. (2018). Art, agency, and inquiry: Making connections between new materialism and contemporary pragmatism in arts-based research. In M. Cahnmann-Taylor & R. Siegesmund (Eds.), Arts-based research in Education (pp. 32-47).

Ross, H. & Mannion, G. (2012) Curriculum making as the enactment of dwelling in places. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 31, 303-313.

Riddett-Moore, K. & Siegesmund, R. (2012). Arts-based research: Data are constructed, not found. In S. R. Klein (Ed.), Action Research Methods (pp. 105-132). New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.

Siegesmund, R. (2012). Dewey through a/r/tography. Visual Arts Research, 38, 99-109.

Siegesmund, R. (2017). Inquiry through art: John Dewey’s “Art as experience”. Unpublished manuscript, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL.

Siegesmund, R. (2018). Nomadic materiality within arts-based research. European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry Proceedings 2018, 101-110.

Siegesmund, R. & Freedman, K. (2018). Interpreting visual information in research: Tacit knowledge and nomadic inquiry. European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry Proceedings 2018, 34-40.

Springgay, S. & Truman, S.E. (2018). Walking methodologies in a more-than-human world: WalkingLab. London, UK: Routledge.

Taylor, C.A. (2017). Rethinking the empirical in higher education: post-qualitative inquiry as a less comfortable social science. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 40, 311-324.

Tuck, E. & McKenzie, M. (2015). Place in research: Theory, methodology and methods. New York, NY: Routledge.

Tweewaters (2012). Twist. Retrieved January, 7, 2018, from

How to Cite
CoemansS., VandenabeeleJ., & HannesK. (2019). Making Sense of a Changing Neighborhood: Art Students’ Experiences of Place Explored Through a Material-Discursive Analytical Lens. Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 4(2), 505-534.