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Creative Explorations: New Approaches to Identities and Audiences [Paperback]

David Gauntlett

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Book Description

June 15 2007 041539659X 978-0415396592 1

How do you picture identity? What happens when you ask individuals to make visual representations of their own identities, influences, and relationships?

Drawing upon an array of disciplines from neuroscience to philosophy, and art to social theory, David Gauntlett explores the ways in which researchers can embrace people's everyday creativity in order to understand social experience.

Seeking an alternative to traditional interviews and focus groups, he outlines studies in which people have been asked to make visual things – such as video, collage, and drawing – and then interpret them. This leads to an innovative project in which Gauntlett asked people to build metaphorical models of their identities in Lego. This creative reflective method provides insights into how individuals present themselves, understand their own life story, and connect with the social world.

Creative Explorations is a lively and original discussion of identities, media influences, and creativity, which will be of interest to both students and academics.

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About the Author

David Gauntlett is Professor of Media and Communications, University of Westminster, London. He is the author of several books on media audiences and identities, including Media, Gender and Identity (2002) and Moving Experiences (Second Edition, 2005). He produces the award-winning website on media and identities,, and the hub for creative methodologies,



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5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate and Long Overdue Sept. 28 2007
By Andrew I. Epstein - Published on
With the publication of Creative Explorations, David Gauntlett and his colleagues at the Art Lab at the University of Westminster establish themselves as leaders in the advancement of methodological approaches to the study of contemporary identity. Superbly written and masterfully interdisciplinary, this book speaks to a broad swath of practitioners and researchers seeking to gain deeper understandings of people and the way local and global forces influence, and are influenced by, expressions of self.

By moving beyond the role of researcher as fly on the wall and subject as local informant, Gauntlett challenges us to investigate processes of self-representation through art and video, even Lego building, in order to explore identity under much more authentic contexts than interviewing and observation alone. It is no longer the case that our subjects are actors within closed social systems where the researcher bewares of poisoning the local culture, but rather are part and parcel of the same local and global forces as the researcher. It is no longer enough simply to be reflexive, but rather to engage our subjects with tools of modern media and to view the process of personal creative expression as fertile ground for gaining understandings of identity development anywhere in the world, even in the most remote places or under the most dire circumstances.

While contemporary researchers of Visual Anthropology/Sociology and Visual Culture keep the tools of media production in the hands of the researcher and locate their subject of study in the products of self-representation, Gauntlett advocates a truly visionary, and long overdue, methodology that puts these tools in the hands of our subjects and locates the site of our research in the process, rather than the product, of creative exploration.

As an educational researcher and teacher, I consider this book a landmark and essential text for anyone interested in qualitative research and the study of identity.

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