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):
big data analytics
creation of apps to articulate experiences
creation of personas and scenarios
creation of sensory map
creation of soundscapes
curating an exhibition
detailed logs of interactions
large scale databases
large scale surveys
photo elicitation interviews
<< 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.