Reference: Mannay, D. (2019). Artefacts, Third Objects, Sandboxing and Figurines in the Doll’s House. The SAGE Handbook of Visual Research Methods, 322. : https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526417015
Abstract: Rather than exploring technology reliant techniques, this chapter considers the role of objects as a tool of elicitation and a way to engender participatory forms of research where participants can more easily set the agenda and lead the conversation. The chapter explores the usefulness of objects in relation to three distinct approaches. First, it is interested in the artefacts, objects and things that belong to participants: these are items that they own, which are shared with the researcher. Second, there is an exploration of ‘third objects’ that are introduced to the interview space by the researcher to provide a point of focus and to generate discussion. Third, the chapter examines the use of multiple objects and an accompanying backdrop scene (here a sandbox and doll's house), which are provided by researchers for participants to build a representation of an aspect of their lives or to create a scene in response to a specific research question. The chapter draws on a range of empirical examples to illustrate how objects are utilised in the research process, and what can be gained from their introduction as tools of elicitation.
My notes: This handbook has many interesting chapters, but this one in particular I think can help design researchers see how often times their claims of originality are really just evidence of their lack of awareness and appreciation for how other disciplines conduct research. In particular, I've heard *many* design researchers make claims about their use of artefacts and artefact-creation in so-called 'design workshops' used for research purposes. The problem is that they seldom acknowledge the various scholars across social studies and other fields who adapt and apply 'creative methods'. I still believe that 'designerly researchers' (Joyce Lee dixit) have a lot to contribute to these efforts by applying their knowledge and intuitions of the visual, material, and tangible qualities of artefacts and their potential for research activity. All good for those using 'design probes' and 'design workshops' as research methods, except please do your homework and respect non-design researchers who have already been working on these spaces for many years.