Performative arts social science (pass for short) is an alternative view of ‘arts-based research’. Leavy and Jones see the two terms as interchangeable and with a different emphasis. Jones views pass as highlighting the sharing of a creative research process with an audience, whilst Leavy uses the term ‘arts-based research’ to describe any social science which utilizes the arts. Pass seems to be more directly relevant for music therapy, in that it incorporates the notion of ‘sharing with others in a creative process’ in its language (Beer, 2016).
Recently I have been using pass as a label to understand my research. Being a musical performer, thinking about relationship with others and sharing creative processes is the bread and butter of life. Everytime I step out into the world with an instrument, be it to play jazz or to therapize, I am thinking about musical communication. Connecting with an audience, with clients, is a vital part of the vagabond life of a musical therapist-performer.
But what does ‘performative arts social science’ really mean? Is it a useful term for arts therapies research?
The word performance is commonly understood as describing entertainment, or showing off talent. However, there is a deeper sense of performance or performative which is connected to the common sharing of a creative process. The theologian Ward (1992) defines it as, ‘form coming through’, or carrying ‘something through to completion’.
In qualitative social science research ‘form is worked out, brought-through’. It is possible to perform research through a constant sharing of process, for example I am doing this now in this blog. The process of ‘form coming through’ is present in qualitative research that utilizes the arts (McNiff, 1998; Leavy, 2009). In pass art is understood as social, and always created in relation to others (Jones, 2012). The researcher takes part in a continious co-creation with research participants, with research audience, co-creating the meaning, discovering new knowledge and potentially opening up a space for new audiences.
My PhD project involves a similar process, co-creating data with the participants using spontaneous music, interviews and responses to graphic scores. Continious sharing with a research audience through blogging and twitter (thank you for reading), showing reflexive art works (Schenstead, 2012) and through traditional means such as conferences and journals.
Performative refers to the process, to relationships, rather than a single event. This implies that it might be useful to explore pass in arts therapies research, since we also view the arts through a social/relational/process lens.
Beer, L.E. (2016) From Embedded to Embodied: Including Music in Arts-Based Music Therapy Research. Music Therapy Perspectives, 34, pp. 33-40.
Jones, K. (2012) Connecting Research with Communities through Performative Social Science. The Qualitative Report, 17 (18), pp. 1-8.
Jones, K., and Leavy, P. (2014) A Conversation Between Kip Jones and Patricia Leavy: Arts-Based Research, Performative Social Science and Working on the Margins. The Qualitative Report, 19 (38), pp. 1-7.
Leavy, P. (2009) Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice. (2nd ed). New York: The Guildford Press.
McNiff, S. (1998) Art-Based Research.London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Schenstead, A.R. (2012) The Timelessness of Arts-Based Research: Looking Back Upon A Heuristic Self-Study and the Arts-Based Reflexivity Data Analysis. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 12(1).
Ward, R. (1992) Speaking from the Heart: Preaching with Passion. Nashville: Abindon Press, p. 77.