This book provides a thought-provoking guide to conducting collaborative arts-based research. Focusing on ways that social inquiry might be conducted with marginalised groups to promote social justice, the text offers chapters on:

  • Telling ‘alternative’ stories through a variety of methods from crafts to digital film
  • Visual and metaphorical approaches to social research including photography, art and poetry
  • Performative methods that include drama, dance, music and performance art

Foster introduces relevant methodological debates, giving a context for understanding when arts-based research can be a fruitful approach to take and outlining a convincing rationale for using the arts as a way of understanding and representing the social world. The book also suggests a range of alternative criteria for evaluating the quality of arts-based research. Illustrative examples from around the world are used throughout the book and an extended case study is included that focuses on Foster’s own collaborative arts-based research.

With their emphasis on the value of participative research and social justice, arts-based methodologies are becoming increasingly popular in health and social research. This is the ideal text for anyone looking to introduce arts-based methods into their research practice.

chapter 1|13 pages


Peeling wallpaper

chapter 2|17 pages

Intellectual acrobatics

chapter 3|22 pages


chapter 4|21 pages

Image and metaphor

chapter 5|20 pages


chapter 6|18 pages

Case study

‘They're not like us real mums – are they?’

chapter 7|20 pages

‘What is it good for?'

Evaluating the quality, beauty and ‘impacts' of arts-based research

chapter 8|11 pages

The last laugh