<< Methods and Methodologies >>

The spark for the network and for this think-kit was our own search for better methodologies. Despite the ‘sensory revolution’ (David Howes) in the humanities and social sciences there has been relatively little explicit interdisciplinary or cross-professional exchange on methods. Our broader aim was therefore to create an experimental place to exchange and develop ideas by bringing people together who have a common interest in the urban sensorium but who would not normally encounter each other. The methods and approaches discussed included (in alphabetical order):

action research

active participation

analytical philosophy

archival research


big data analytics

conceptual history

corpus linguistics

creation of apps to articulate experiences

creation of personas and scenarios

creation of sensory map

creation of soundscapes

creative writing

curating  an exhibition

detailed logs of interactions

discourse analysis

emotional history


evocative interviews

film making

focus groups

guided tours

gut feeling



immersive theatre



large scale databases

large scale surveys

oral history

participant observation

participative walking


photo elicitation interviews


re-routing space


role playing




show objects

smell maps

smell objects

smell walks

sound maps

sound walks

textual analysis

thermal walks

thick description

think-aloud testing

touch objects


video interviews

virtual reality

visual analysis


<< Methodology and the production of knowledge >>

The method is also influenced by how we approach the senses theoretically and ideologically. Different professions and disciplines not only use different methods but also have different understandings as to what counts as a ‘method’. Part of these different understandings are deeply rooted in disciplinary traditions and differences about whether the word ‘method’ is used mainly for data gathering techniques or whether it includes the discussion of how theory (in the broad sense) is guiding research questions, research design and data interpretation: ‘methodology’ in other words.
Divergences can also be underpinned by different assumptions on how the relationship between environment, body and mind should be conceptualized, by blurry lines between concepts of the ‘senses’, ‘emotions’ and ‘experiences’, trust or distrust in the role of the expert, different theories about the relationship between the economic and the social and vested interests with regard to private or public uses of space.