There has been increasing awareness and interest in the role of the senses in qualitative research. We build on this work by focusing on the use of material objects in research. Using material objects in qualitative research, particularly those selected by research participants, offers a different kind of engagement that can add richness and complexity to the knowledge generated. Material objects can either be participant-selected or researcher-selected, each having its own benefits and challenges. Using examples, we explore how participants sensorially engage with these objects, using visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile means. This engagement with material objects, particularly those that are personally meaningful to participants, is useful when examining research topics that may be sensitive or abstract; it offers the potential for participants to identify salient associations and/or express what may be otherwise unsayable. We discuss practical strategies in using material objects as well as the ethical challenges and possible products of such research.
Sensory Engagement, Material Objects, Interview Methods, Innovative Research Methods, Ethics
We are grateful to our colleagues for their willingness to contribute to our experimental endeavours and thank them for their generosity.
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Recommended APA Citation
Cox, S., & Guillemin, M. (2018). Enhancing Meaning-Making in Research through Sensory Engagement with Material Objects. The Qualitative Report, 23(11), 2754-2771. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2018.3135