Improving community health and well-being
1 July 2013
A new research project led by the School of Social Sciences will use creative arts practices to help inform health-related policy and service development.
Funded jointly by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the 'Representing Communities' project, will use innovative research techniques to promote engagement between communities and policy makers.
The project will take place across five distinct case-study communities in Wales, Scotland and England and connect these to relevant policy-makers, researchers and arts practitioners in each country, and in each locality. The work is being undertaken with colleagues at the universities of Birmingham, Highlands and Islands, Leeds and South Wales, and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.
The study will begin by analysing existing representations of local communities – in statistical evidence, policy documents, media, literature and film. These representations can sometimes be quite negative, often being designed to point out what is missing from or what is wrong with communities. Each case study will then use creative engagement methods (including life mapping, drama, music, storytelling and photography) to generate new community self-representations, working in partnership with local arts and health organisations.
These new 'data' will be presented to relevant local or national policy makers and service development officials through exhibitions, performances and digital media.
Through these innovative data collection methods, the communities involved will also benefit from the creation of lasting legacies in the form of artistic resources, as well as sustainable web-based and training resources.
The Principal Investigator, Gareth Williams, Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences and Director of the Cardiff Institute of Society, Health and Well-Being, said: "By involving community participants in the production of creative self-representations, we can evaluate this process and reflect on the relationship between arts participation and community empowerment; allowing us to examine how community values, participation, self-reliance and resilience are shaped, experienced and articulated, and find new ways for them to become embedded in policy.
"Through detailed analysis and interpretation the research will offer innovative thinking about, and will make a distinctive contribution to, the study and development of community health and well-being."
The three-year research project will commence in July 2013. For more information about the project, please visit:www.cardiff.ac.uk/socsi/research/researchprojects/representingcommunities