Doing Time in Social Science and Humanities Research: Working with Repetition and Re-Reading

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This chapter sets out an account of a project set in a men’s prison in 2014–2015. The stated aim of the project was to explore the ways that science fiction can support the development of plural reading techniques among the participants, particularly in relation to their futureconcepts. Time and temporality functioned as fundamental constituents of the methodology in three ways in the project:

1) Time was the context for the project. It took place in a prison where the participants were ‘doing time’ for offences committed in the recent past.
2) Science fiction films which used queered time as a plot device, were employed as objects from which to elicit contemplative discussions about ontological positions in relation to the present and the future.
3) Time was explicitly used as investigative method throughout the project. Participants were asked to imagine plural versions of personal and global futures and hold them in play as part of the interviews and discussions.

It is argued that employing time and temporality as an investigative focus provides rich insights but poses complex ethical questions for the researcher and the participants. The effects of using time as method are reflected on, including how it worked in practical terms, what the benefits were, as well as its limitations. Finally, it is suggested that time has functioned in a fourth, unanticipated way in the intervening gap between the conclusion of the empirical work and this writing because it has allowed for deeper meaning to be made from the data. It is therefore suggested that building in a methodological delay between execution and analysis leads to more depth of understanding. Finally, it is suggested that future research might also focus on time as a healer, unmediated by any other intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorking with time in qualitative research
Subtitle of host publicationcase studies, theory and practice
EditorsKeri Facer, Johan Siebers, Bradon Smith
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781003152255
ISBN (Print)9780367714789
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Anticipation and Futures


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