Visual research methods

I was fascinated by the Lego Serious Play Research Project, by ArtLab, which was one of our recommended 'readings' this week. The idea is to use lego to have research participants share individual and group identities, as well as thoughts about specific subjects. This led me to the International Visual Sociology Association website, which I recommend if you are interested in visual research. It also made me think of a tool that I have used for work called "community mapping".The objective of community mapping is to get participants to both reflect on and share elements of their community that particularly impact them. In the context of my work, which aims to support youth engagement, once the participants have gone through community mapping and a few other similar exercises, they start to identify themes that they would like to address in their communities, as well as possible resources and limitations. Typically, the community maps have been made out of play-doh. While these workshops are not academic, they do seem to have elements of action research and I wonder if the lego method could be applied in this way - to support community workshops, as a tool for action research, or both. The photo above, reproduced with permission, is from a community map made by a participant at a youth conference in Yellowknife, in March. In a post-conference questionnaire, many participants discussed their Aboriginal identity and how it had been reinforced during the conference. I would venture that this is also somewhat reflected in the community map shown here.


  1. Very cool initiative, Eleonore - thank you for telling us about it, and for sharing the image. And yes, I also think the ArtLab Approach could be used to support community action research.

  2. Excellent! Your enthusiastic post made me check out the website. It looks like a method that I could use for my research. Thanks!