Visual, Audial and Artistic Methods in Social Research

The Young People Creating Belonging Project




Qualitative methods, visual methods, sensory methods, belonging, young people in state care


This article reflects on the use of sensory and creative methods to explore feelings of belonging among young people in state care across Scotland. The concern was to understand how these young people, many of whom move frequently between short-lived placements in foster families and residential units, construct a sense of belonging in circumstances that differ considerably from conventional and often idealised notions of ‘home’. Sensory and creative methods, employed here within relatively unstructured interviews, proved invaluable to understanding difficult-to-articulate, ambivalent, emotional, and aesthetic aspects of belonging. Their use illustrates the potential of moving beyond a reliance on the verbal and textual in qualitative research. Notably this article demonstrates how the use of such methods in data collection and representation can highlight the significance of research participants’ agency and creativity however difficult their affective and financial circumstances. As such, these methods also facilitate a greater appreciation of the complex personhood of research participants who may otherwise ‘appear’ in research outputs only as exemplars of particular social problems.  


Author Biographies

Sarah Wilson, University of Stirling

Dr., PhD (University of Edinburgh, 2003), Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Stirling (UK)

Elisabeth-Jane Milne, Charles Darwin University

Dr., PhD (University of Bradford, 2008), Adjunct Professor, Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, Australia


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How to Cite

Wilson, S., & Milne, E.-J. (2022). Visual, Audial and Artistic Methods in Social Research: The Young People Creating Belonging Project . Journal of Sociology: Bulletin of Yerevan University, 13(1 (35), 39–54.



Methodology and Methodics