Methods in Dialogue: Researching the Environment

Date: Wednesday 13th October 2010, 3-5pm

Location: Hanson Room, Humanities Bridgeford Street building

Workshop summary

Our three speakers will introduce the different methodological approach they have taken to researching the Environment. This is followed by by discussion and debate from participants, exploring the distinctive research questions, practices, insights and types of knowledge claim that different methodological approaches to researching a topic can offer.


Performativity, corporeality and the politics of ship disposal – Professor Nicky Gregson (University of Sheffield)

This paper provides a posthumanist performative reading of spaces of disposal as sites of economic activity. Its empirical focus is ship breaking, as practices and political techniques. Drawing on the work of Donald Mackenzie, Karen Barad and Jane Bennett, it frames ship disposal as a boundary-making intervention in the world and as part of the demolition assemblage. The paper challenges the oppositional politics that characterise international debate about ship disposal. Through an articulation of the academic register and literary narrative, the paper develops a material politics of ship disposal which draws connections, rather than making distinctions, between labouring bodies in different parts of the world. It reconfigures ship disposal through a material politics that centres the proximate intimacy of human bodies, demolition technologies and vital inorganic materials, highlighting the importance of shared corporeal vulnerabilities, a biopolitics of occupational health and a material politics of globalisation where the long distance associations are temporal, of a ‘now’ and future-past ‘then’.

Nicky Gregson is a Professor of Geography at the University of Sheffield. View Nicky Gregson’s webpage for more details.

Researching Material and Social Landscapes using Multi-Modal and Mobile Methods – Professor Amanda Cofffey (Cardiff University)

This paper is concerned with exploring the interplay between material, economic and social landscapes, and young people’s lives. In particular the paper draws on a project which sought to articulate the ways in which narratives of the transformation, redevelopment and regeneration of place sit alongside the biographical transformations of young people themselves, as they make their transitions into adulthood. The paper explores the possibilities and opportunities afforded by methods that seek to capture the mobility and multimodality of place and biography, of lives being lived and lived through, and of places being lived with and lived in.

Amanda Coffey is a Professor of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. View Amanda Coffey’s webpage for more details.

Researching Sustainability:Integrating social science methods, practices and engagement into the research agenda – Dr Alex Franklin (Cardiff University/BRASS)

The final goal of sustainable development is usually defined in terms of improving the quality of life of all people now and into the long term future. In order to reach this goal it is necessary to balance economic, environmental and social goals. A considerable amount of progress has been made in the natural sciences developing techniques to model and measure key aspects of environmental sustainability, such as climate change and resource depletion. This presentation looks at the contribution that social science research methods can make to researching sustainability. By illustrating some of the ways in which social science research methods are being used to develop further our knowledge and understanding of (un)sustainable practice, it is in effect a preparatory discussion. It seeks to prepare the way for a more effective integration of social research techniques into broader cross-disciplinary sustainability research programmes – both by those who have a background in the social sciences and those who do not.

Alex Franklin is a Senior Research Associate and the Research Manager at the ESRC Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) at Cardiff University. View Alex Franklin’s webpage for more details.

Registration and fees

This workshop is free, however you must register online.

Register Online >


The workshop is in the Hanson room in the Humanities Bridgeford Street building at the University of Manchester. Humanities Bridgeford Street is number 35 on the Campus Map [link opens in new window].

If you aren’t familiar with the University of Manchester campus, see out Getting Here page [opens in new window] for directions to our offices. Note that the workshop isn’t in the Arthur Lewis Building but in the building directly opposite.

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  1. Pingback: Methods in Dialogue: Researching the Environment … campus university

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