"You kind of have to listen to me": Researching discrimination through poetry

Helen Johnson, Emily Carson-Apstein, Simon Banderob, Xander Macaulay-Rettino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Arts-based research approaches, such as poetic inquiry and autoethnography, are attracting interest for their ability to engage wide-ranging audiences with creative, emotive, and thought-provoking outputs. In this article, we discuss a new method, which draws on these approaches, combining them with collaborative research principles and practices. The "collaborative poetics" method was developed in a pilot study, where one social scientist/poet and seven young spoken word artists worked together to explore their lived experiences of discrimination and privilege. We focus here on one aspect of this research; namely, the analysis of responses to two key questions: "Where do you see discrimination in your daily life?" and "How do you benefit from discrimination?" These questions were posed initially during semi-structured interviews with five of the co-researchers, and subsequently as mini questionnaires which evoked short, written statements from 39 participants. The interview data were analyzed using collaborative poetics and the wider dataset with a "pure" thematic analysis. These different approaches are compared here, and we argue that this comparison reveals the transformative potential of collaborative poetics for both co-researchers and the intended audiences of research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalForum : Qualitative Social Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 Helen Johnson, Emily Carson-Apstein, Simon Banderob, Xander Macaulay-Rettino. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  • discrimination
  • privilege
  • participatory research
  • arts-based research
  • collaborative poetics
  • poetic inquiry
  • microaggression


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