A critically reflective arts-based research study exploring the experiences of survivors of sexual abuse as adult learners, artists and research participants

Dickson, Nicola M. (2023) A critically reflective arts-based research study exploring the experiences of survivors of sexual abuse as adult learners, artists and research participants. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This study utilises a qualitative, arts-based research approach to explore the experiences of sexual abuse survivors as adult learners, visual artists and research participants. Building on the work of critical feminist adult educators who incorporate the arts to illuminate, challenge, empower and ‘give voice’, I provide an authentic representation of the multiple realities of women participating in non-formal adult art education and arts-based research. The study asks how a researcher can become methodologically equipped to conduct an arts-based study with vulnerable adults; what such an arts-based approach can offer a qualitative researcher and their participants; what the barriers and enablers to engagement are for vulnerable adults as learners, artists and research participants; and considers the impacts of engagement on the perceived recovery of survivors of sexual abuse.

An empowerment-orientated, creative research methodology, underpinned by feminist values, provides a framework for this study. These insights are informed by social constructivism and critical theory, which highlight the role of social learning and peer influences when engaging and enabling hard-to-reach participants. The research identifies the challenges met when presenting as an artist-researcher and community-based teacher, attempting to sustain the engagement of adults who have experienced trauma. The study considers the physical, psychological and emotional barriers and enablers to participation for those who had been ‘wounded’ through their formative schooling and abuse suffered in childhood and adolescence. The importance of the practitioner maintaining reflexivity, flexibility, resilience and humour when delivering adult art education and arts-based research with vulnerable adults is shown to be essential. In addition, a support network to help cope with the emotional demands and unexpected, surprising and sometimes disorientating behaviours of vulnerable adult learners is recognised to be a critical component to delivery.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to confidentiality issues this thesis is not available for viewing.
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Slade, Professor Bonnie, Read, Dr. Barbara and Perry, Professor Mia
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83594
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 18 May 2023 15:37
Last Modified: 19 May 2023 15:13
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83594
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/83594

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