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Becoming researcher: navigating a post-qualitative inquiry involving child participants and wearable action cameras.

Caton, Lucy (2019) Becoming researcher: navigating a post-qualitative inquiry involving child participants and wearable action cameras. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The thesis sits at the cross section of arts-based, social science and ‘post’ philosophical inquiry to craft new video research techniques involving video technology. Drawing on the work of Deleuze and Guattari (1987 / 2014) the thesis shows how my own ontological assumptions about children and childhood were challenged, leading me to question conventional social and developmental paradigms. The thesis thinks with video technology in making felt the collective potential of events, where children and cameras open the field to the more-than of objects and subjects performed. The study offers experimentation and analysis of video research and practice, where different configurations of a GoPro camera - head-mounted, chest-mounted, and ‘roaming’ - are employed. I describe the methodological considerations of the different GoPro configurations and argue for a need to further theorise the visual ontologies that underpin the choices and production involved. The inquiry re-engages with abandoned video footage to generate multiple animations of the classroom that operate beyond human privilege alone. I demonstrate the ways in which the inquiry disturbed the ontological security of my researcher’s gaze, and led me to new understandings of children and their relations with digital technologies. The GoPro camera and resultant video are theorised as performative-material-discursive entities that I articulate through the conceptual language of ‘assemblage’ (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987/2014). The thesis offers the techniques of ‘video data sensing’ and ‘turning over’ the video data, felt at the level of experiments with digital pixels, to decentre the child in the action and provoke a ‘haptic’ (Marks, 2000) visualisation of the classroom space. These new techniques emphasise the unfolding nature of ‘doing’ video research, where knowledge remains detached from accounts of subject-driven-agency in order to ask what the video does and how it does it. The video analysis extends beyond simply labelling the child and their capacities in new and alternate ways, as it attempts to complicate humanistic notions of joy, harmony, surprise and cheekiness, to recognise how child subjectivities emerge out of the movements and rhythms of bodies, formlessness and chaos. The thesis contributes to new forms of knowledge production and new ontologies for both visual research methodology and alternative conceptions of ‘the child’. I do so, by presenting a new manner of engaging with video ‘data’ through a ‘post’ theoretical lens.

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