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.


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