This paper considers the use of identity boxes as a data collection method to elicit experiences. Participants were asked to respond to questions using objects to represent their answers. The rationale for using identity boxes was to allow for a more embodied, less textual approach. The identity boxes were then also used to create an artistic installation as one form of data analysis. The reflection section in this paper shows that the approach posed potential risks around the emotional vulnerability of participants, with participants experiencing the project as cathartic and therapeutic. Some participants struggled with the process of thinking through objects as difficult. Although using a less conventional approach to research led to deeper, richer reflections and thus relevant, interesting data, concerns were raised around relevance, generalisability, and more generally the evaluation of the research. The paper concludes with a reconsideration of the identity boxes as a method.
Brown, N. (2019). Identity boxes: using materials and metaphors to elicit experiences. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 22(5), 487-501. DOI: 10.1080/13645579.2019.1590894.
Brown, N. (2018). Identity boxes: data collection through objects. NCRM MethodsNews, 2018(2), 2. Accessible via the NCRM website from here.