Researching Home's Tangible and Intangible Materialities by Photo-Elicitation



Soaita AM & McKee K (2021) Researching Home's Tangible and Intangible Materialities by Photo-Elicitation. Housing, Theory and Society, 38 (3), pp. 279-299.

Drawing on participant-generated photo-elicitation in telephone interviews conducted with private tenants in Britain, we contribute to a new strand of home literature that engages with the vibrant materiality of things. In particular, the paper reflects on how our innovative methodological approach empowered participants to introduce their own points of view through ‘thick’ descriptions, revealed previously undocumented home practices and enabled researchers’ reflexivity and the co-production of knowledge with participants located miles away. The method powerfully captures home’s tangible and intangible materialities and their importance to wellbeing in ways that words-alone interviews cannot. We conclude by introducing the metaphor of ‘the fold’ and the allegory of ‘the invisible tether’ to reflect on the methodological benefits and substantive findings enabled by our approach. We argue that housing studies can benefit from engaging photo-elicitation in questions spanning from the abstract to the concrete, and from the inside to the outside of the home.

Home making; private renting sector; photo-elicitation; housing quality; United Kingdom; material culture

Housing, Theory and Society: Volume 38, Issue 3

FundersESRC Economic and Social Research Council
Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online10/03/2020
Date accepted by journal25/02/2020

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Dr Kim McKee

Dr Kim McKee

Senior Lecturer, Housing Studies

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