Seen But Seldom Heard: Creative Participatory Methods in a Study of Youth and Risk
This paper presents a discussion of the methodologies used in a small scale ‘popular education’ project involving young people in creative activities. The goal of the project is to explore their experiences and feelings about risk and safety and their ‘connectedness’ to their local community. A number of different methods are discussed as ways of empowering marginalised young people, including the use of visual methods, and new media in the form of blogs and Twitter Scripts, within an overarching participatory methodology. Arts-based and multimedia activities are powerful tools to enable young people to collectively question the nature of their historical and social situation and have the potential to raise sensitive issues, therefore, encouraging wider debate, producing new understandings, and facilitating social change. Building on insights gained in earlier research, which suggested that young people felt that they were not listened to or had enough influence in their neighbourhoods, this paper discusses the use of multimedia and creative means to develop a more accessible and effective arena in which young people can learn new skills to enable them to tell their story. In keeping with Bourdieu’s General Theoretical Framework, consideration is given to the ways in which such participatory and arts-based approaches can demonstrate value for the social and cultural capital of young people.