Reconnecting after Disconnection: Big ideas from fine-grained experiences

Thursday 21st April, from 2pm (online)

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Pandemic events have upturned and fragmented research relationships. They have created new dilemmas, but also new opportunities, both for conducting qualitative research and also for qualitative research to explore and reframe ideas and actions. 

Events have created particular pressures for less-experienced or less-resourced (including Research Students and Early Career Researchers), to complete their projects.  However, research community members and participants have also been led to encounter and to co-create new ways of connecting and re-building real, immediate and meaningful knowledge.

Aims for this symposium are to constructively exemplify some of these lessons and novel techniques of connecting and examining. We will appreciate the links between contemporary macro- and micro- systems of knowledge and political and social experiences and action. We will also identify and share ways to (re-)build a supportive qualitative research community, and increase and resource dynamic and inclusive research capacity.


2-2.15pm Welcome, introduction and orientation for the event

Professor Fiona Poland, Professor of Social Research Methodology, School of Health Sciences, University of East Anglia

2.15-2.55pm Keynote speaker

Jamie Hakim: Digital Intimacies: conjunctural analysis and queer men’s smartphone mediated intimacies

In this presentation I will explore the methodological issues that occur when applying ‘conjunctural analysis’ (Hall et. al., 1978) in research on queer men’s digital intimacies. 

Marxist in origin, the objective of conjunctural analysis is to assess the balance of forces during a specific historical conjuncture (period of time) so that political strategies can be developed that bring about more progressive futures. How it is executed depends both on the cultural formation that is being analysed and the conjuncture in which the formation takes its shape.

My colleagues and I used conjunctural analysis in the ESRC funded ‘Digital Intimacies: how queer men use their smartphones to negotiate their cultures of intimacy’. Collecting the data between 2019 and 2021 meant that the coronavirus pandemic, #blacklivesmatter, trans political struggles and the so-called ‘culture wars’ more widely, played determining roles in how these men used smartphones to negotiate their cultures of intimacy.

In this presentation I talk through these findings as well as the methodological issues faced in arriving at them, arguing for the continued value of ‘conjunctural analysis’ not only in researching cultures of intimacy but to qualitative approaches to the social sciences and humanities more generally. Full abstract

Dr Jamie Hakim is a Lecturer in Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London 

His research interests lie at the intersection of digital cultures, intimacy, embodiment and care. His book Work That Body: Male Bodies in Digital Culture was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2019. He was principal investigator on the ESRC funded ‘Digital Intimacies: how gay and bisexual men use their smartphones to negotiate their cultures of intimacy’, which is partnered with sexual health organisations the Terrence Higgins Trust, London Friend and Waverley Care ( As part of the Care Collective he has co-authored The Care Manifesto: The Politics of Interdependence (Verso, 2020).   

Break and pre-panel reflections (using the chat)

3.05-3.45pm Panel discussion

How do digital methods affect inclusivity in research? 

  • Laura Biggart Senior Lecturer of Social Science Research and Psychology, School of Psychology, University of East Anglia

  • Stephanie Hannam-Swain Senior Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University

  • Matthew Lariviere Lecturer in Social Policy, University of Bristol

Chaired by Fiona Poland

Break and post-panel reflections (using the chat)

3.55-4.35pm Keynote speaker

Helen ManchesterCreative Connections in Troubled Times: how can we embed care in qualitative research? 

My interest in feminist understandings of care emerged in a research project in which I worked with older people, technologists, carers and artists in care homes and extra care facilities.

I was often shocked by the infrastructures that produced certain kinds of cultures of care that didn’t seem to enable people to flourish. As I began to think about care more I noticed a lack of attention to care in many aspects of our lives. I became interested in how we might work to embed care in qualitative research practices. This felt even more vital when the pandemic hit.  

Here I consider how participatory, creative methods might enable researchers to develop practices of attentiveness, responsibility (or response-ability) and compassion seeking to understand peoples’ lived experiences, their existing knowledges and expertise and their stories.  

Dr Helen Manchester is a Reader in Digital Inequalities and Urban Futures, School of Education, at the University of Bristol

Helen is interested in participatory digital futures, ageing, co-design, social connectivity, culture and the arts. She develops methodologically innovative approaches to research in collaboration with artists, technologists, civil society organisations and policy-makers. Helen currently leads the ‘Connecting through Culture as we Age: Digital Innovation for Healthy Ageing’ project. She has previously led a number of co-designed research projects working with digital technologies, material culture, arts and older people, including Tangible Memories: Community in care, Parlours of Wonder and Productive Margins: Isolation and loneliness of older people. 

4.35-4.50pm Next steps and Closing remarks

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