Conducting Video Research in the Social and Solidarity Economy: Empowering the Cinderella Economy Towards Social Justice

Conducting Video Research in the Social and Solidarity Economy: Empowering the Cinderella Economy Towards Social Justice

Sara Calvo (Middlesex University, London, UK) and Andres Morales (The Open University, London, UK)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJEP.2016100104
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Abstract

This paper focuses on the potential use of visual research for the study of the social and solidarity economy, by presenting some of the methodological insights and challenges that arise for the use of video research in the study of such initiatives reflecting on the authors experience of the Living in Minca project. This paper contributes to advancing the debate on the use of non-conventional research methods and the impact that visual researchers can make by empowering small and local practices, which are part of the so-called ‘Cinderella' economy towards social justice and reaching audiences outside academia.
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Introduction

Recent years have witnessed a growth in the use of visual research methods in the field of organisation and management studies (Bell et al., 2014; Meyer et al., 2013; Fele, 2012). It is often suggested that this growth is somehow related to the increasing importance of visual images in contemporary social and cultural practice (Heath & Hindmarsh, 2002). However, the relationship between ‘visual research’ and the ‘social and solidarity economy’ (SSE) has not yet been interrogated. The aim of this paper is therefore to present and justify the use of visual research, and video research in particular, as a method which can enable researchers within the SSE field to ‘push further into the felt, touched and embodied constitution of knowledge’ (Crang, 2003, p. 501).

The concept ‘SSE’ is used throughout this paper to refer to forms of economic activity that prioritise social and often environmental objectives, involving producers, workers, consumers and citizens acting collectively, driven by values such as solidarity, equity and democratic governance, fostering social cohesion and favouring decentralisation and local development. The sector includes cooperatives, mutual health and insurance associations, NGOs with earned income generated activities, fairtrade networks, community-based organisations and self-help groups organised to produce goods and services, associations within the informal or popular economy, and various forms of solidarity finance such as complementary currencies and digital crowdfunding, as well as sharing schemes associated with ‘the sharing or collaborative’ economy. Tim Jackson, in his 2009 publication, ‘Prosperity without growth’, introduces the concept of the ‘Cinderella’ economy1 to refer to an economy of smaller scale, locally embedded, which includes community based organisations and similar related activities that share both social and environmental goals, and which is often ignored in the market.

In this paper, we set out a case for how applied video research as an innovative visual method can be used not only to create ‘new’ knowledge accessible to wide and diverse audiences, but also to enable social justice2, providing visibility to those that are excluded by empowering small and local practices, which are part of the so-called ‘Cinderella’ economy. This paper presents some of the methodological insights and challenges that arise for the use of video research in the study of social and solidarity economy initiatives (SSEIs), by reflecting on the Living in Minca project. This project was conducted over a three-year period (September 2013 to November 2015) with the express goal of exploring local small SSEIs around the world. A multiple video case study research design was chosen for the purpose of capturing rich descriptive contexts and gaining a picture of the diversity of such practices in Asia, Africa, America and Europe.

The following three combined elements are critically explored to provide an underpinning framework for enhancing growth in SSE video research studies. The first element incorporates a discussion of the benefits of using video research in general, and specific considerations that needed to be taken into account to prevent the misuse of video which emerged from our study. The second element is an appreciation of our research design and practice looking at the three main video research stages: preproduction, production and postproduction. The third element is a reflection of the ethical challenges and innovations in the dissemination of data when using video research as well as the impact created with our research by empowering ‘the researched’ and reaching audiences outside academia. In so doing, examples will be illustrated to help readers gain a better understanding of the elements discussed.

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