I wrote a new blog post on creative ethnography in the study of everyday life in deindustrialising urban settings for SAGE Perspectives. It is based on my recent research article examining structures of feeling in Russia’s industrial neighbourhoods. You can read a full version of this blog here, if you are interested in knowing more about how to apply drawing and visual research methods in multi-sited ethnography .
Deindustrialisation is a global complex process. It leads not only to the closure of factories which would otherwise damage the environment but also negatively affects everyday life and job opportunities of working-class people. Deindustrialisation often goes hand in hand with neoliberal urban development resulting in gentrification and displacement of longstanding residents of former industrial neighbourhoods and council estates.
Due to the multiple impacts of deindustrialisation on the lived experiences of local communities, it is important to develop multi-sensory approaches and innovative methodologies relevant for researching place attachment, sensual experiences and urban imaginaries of people residing in post-industrial urban areas.
In my study of two industrial neighbourhoods with mixed social compositions in the cities of Moscow and Yekaterinburg, Russia, I drew on the approach of multi-sited ethnography. Its research design built on a combination of the mainstream qualitative methods of interviewing, observation, participation and the creative method of drawing of the neighbourhoods studied made by research participants, also known as a mental mapping technique.
A mental map is a visualisation of the subjective perception of urban space by city dwellers. Kevin Lynch applied mental mapping in his study of the city images in the US. According to Lynch, each image of the city composed by many individual images, which share some similar visual patterns. In my research on Russia’s industrial neighbourhoods, I used mental mapping to explore structures of feeling as affective principles regulating sensual experiences, urban imaginaries and practical activities of local communities. Mental mapping was aimed to elicit how members of those communities sense and imagine their urban areas.
Continue reading in the SAGE Perspectives Blog.