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Title: Visual research practice in fashion and textile design higher education
Author: Kjolberg, Torunn
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis is concerned with visual research in the context of fashion and textile design education. Utilising an ethnographic methodology, this study followed a group of self-selected fashion and textile design students throughout their first two years of study at a higher education institution in the south of England. Drawing on a series of personal interviews, participant observation and analysis of course documents, the research examines how visual research practices are structured through teaching, student engagement and participation, as well as through various forms of reification. Two key theoretical perspectives inform this thesis: Lave and Wenger and Wenger's concepts of legitimate peripheral participation and communities of practice, and Winnicott's notions of transitional phenomena and object-use. Their mutual relevance and complementarity is considered to explicate the dynamic between subjectivity, materiality and the social world in this study. This thesis argues that the tacitness of visual research practices presents a problem for many learners, as confusion and self-doubt arise due to the lack of articulation and a perceived instability of meaning behind these processes. Meanwhile, the students' reconciliation of their own practices with those endorsed through teaching was identified as key to successful participation on the course. Whilst some students were able to navigate these ambiguities and, in Winnicott's sense, put them into use, for other students this entailed alignment of practices without mutual negotiation. Results were identities of non-participation or compliance without negotiation of meaning. Although the tacitness of visual research poses an obstacle, I conclude that a universal definition of visual research is problematic or even impossible. These practices are mutable, contextual and situated. Therefore, in this study, learning visual research entails participating on the course, which can be conceived of as a community of practice, and which acts (potentially) as a facilitating environment where students can put the sources, tools, materials and practices of visual research into use.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available