Co -producing Knowledge Through Archival Engagements: Reflections on the UK Discourses of Voluntary Action project

Authors: Irene Hardill*, Northumbria University, UK, Angela Ellis Paine, Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham, UK, Rose Lindsey, Southampton University, Georgina Brewis, University College London, UK, Rob Macmillan, CRESR- Center for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Social Geography
Keywords: archives, ethics, coproduction
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Calvert Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Discourses of Voluntary Action is an ESRC-funded interdisciplinary research project that is exploring the debates that have taken place in England on the role of voluntary action in the provision of welfare in the 1940s and 2010s through a combination of historic and contemporary analysis. It compares and contrasts popular, political and voluntary sector narratives identified from a range of archival sources, within and across these two periods of time. The project is being co-produced with five project partners: four voluntary organisations who were active across England in the 1940s and 2010s and The Mass Observation Project. The Mass Observation Project was established in 1937 by two social scientists to employ ethnographic methods to record everyday life, an ‘anthropology of our own people’. We draw on data from The Mass Observation Project to explore popular narratives, government policy documents, speeches and parliamentary debates to explore political narratives, and key statements, policy documents, board papers and publications produced by our partner voluntary organisations to explore voluntary sector narratives. In our paper we critically reflect on co-producing knowledge through archival engagements, including negotiating access and maintaining trust with our project partners, along with the ethical issues we encountered.

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