my research


If you looked at my publications, my research agenda might look somewhat haphazard. But it’s not. Basically I’m interested in how things that are currently elite (high cultural and social capitals) can be made more widely available… so  how education writ very broadly can benefit more people, how the arts can be something for everyone and so on. And as part of this, I’ve been concerned with trying to make the ‘games’ that lead to the acquisition of high cultural and social capitals visible and comprehensible and do – able. So my work on the arts sits under this umbrella, as does that on research methods and doctoral writing, and that of school and community change.

But as part of this broad agenda I’ve been particularly working in recent times on how organisations and communities change to become more just, in particular through the arts.

I’m not interested in any old change, but change which makes life chances and everyday life better for the people that policy and social institutions generally do badly by and for. That means that my research might focus on groups of people who are having a hard time in times of austerity, or on practices that are affirming and offer horizons of hope and possibility. At present I am doing action research with colleagues to generate new curriculum and working with community theatre practitioners to create spaces for community narratives and knowledges. This also means that sometimes I do deconstructive policy analyses. Recently this has also extended to thinking about change via social media.

In order to make this work more accessible Ive been looking at how we can ‘see’ and understand what happens when people are engaged in (broadly defined) learning experiences. How are they changed? What do we look for to understand what is happening?

This interest has led me to questions of formative evaluation and how we make judgements about what counts as ‘impact’ and ‘value’. I mainly pursue this question through ethnographic and case study research. Ive most recently worked on this question in relation to community theatre and in work on professional development and public engagement in galleries and museums. One of these projects can be seen via this archived blog on Performing Impact. Im also interested in young people who miss out on their educational entitlement.

Also see a current research project site:

TALE – Tracking arts learning and engagement, with the Royal Shakespeare Company Education and Tate Learning, funded by Arts Council England.

And some completed research archives:

Quality in alternative education, a project funded by the Princes Trust.

GET WET – an action research project with Papplewick Pumping Station, five artists, four teachers and four university researchers.

Signature pedagogies – a study of the practices of artists working with young people

Filming Live Art as research method – a cultural value project funded by the AHRC which looks at how we can understand young people’s understandings of the value of learning about live art.

CP archive – an AHRC funded project looking at how cultural value of the programme was understood and researched.

1 Response to my research

  1. antonhecht says:

    Really interesting, will check out all the links. I am also interested in many of these ideas in my own practical artwork, and using gameful structures in art for participatory learning works mostly with the public. Will keep checking back. The writing info is good too, I am trying to get better or at least adequate at writing academically. All the best. Anton Hecht


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