Last semester my chosen topic for research and analysis focused on social behaviour. This stemmed from Malcolm Gladwell’s, ‘broken window theory.’ This theory explored the essence of how areas which would typically be left after incidents such as window breaking or car graffiti lead people to a natural feeling of a lower constraint leading as a result in a higher crime rate. An example of this would be within the New York subs when cars would be disrespected through the act of graffiti and as a result omitted a general consensus of lawlessness. This led my thinking into the field of how social behaviour relates directly to crime and so to grasp the roots I needed to delve into understanding social behaviour on a deeper level. Social behaviour is often something which is very influential on environment, circumstances and also the company you are surrounded by. I discovered through my research that within social behaviour the issue of communication is highly complex and an issue which social behaviour stems itself around especially in relation to crime.
Literature was a key source for my research in semester 1. I researched many books but the main ones where,
"The definitive book of body language" and “The Social Context of Nonverbal Behaviour”.
I read these in order to broaden my knowledge on the complex subject and to find out opinions and information contrasted on various related topics.
If I was to continue research into this chosen topic of discussion I would ideally gather a lot more primary based research and evidence. There are a number of methods I project I could use. By having a diverse range of research methods I feel my analysis would be more thorough and effective. From previous tasks undertaken this semester I have been introduced to a few specific research methods which could be possible starting points if I was to undertake this research project again in the near future.
One of the methods was the use of observation. The aim of this exercise was to observe how people interacted, the study of ethnography, rather than objects, a key aspect in understanding design.
In relation to my chosen topic of discussion I could see very clearly how observation could potentially play a vital and key role within my research. Who could I observe and where? My target audience could vary greatly dependent on the location. For research in social behaviour in direct relation to crime I project I could observe first hand some of the behaviour associated with root factors which can fuel crime related incidents and crime as a whole. One such topic could fundamentally be alcohol consumption and more specifically the study into the psychology of why people drink so much and the effects of this. Potential places I could carry out these observations in would be bars, clubs, in major cities at peak weekend times. By observing the social behaviour of the public in the actual setting where my topical problem stems from will give me first hand experience and a feel of the environment which could be highly beneficial as it would be an experience that I could not source from any other method. It should in theory provide me with a clearer view and could fundamentally give me a more direct approach to my investigation. Furthermore, by conducting this first hand research I can have an assurance that my findings would be accurate and non bias as I wouldn’t be relying on secondary sources which could have a high probability of being prejudice.
There are certain factors I feel I would need to take into consideration in order to make my results valid. Firstly I would need to vary both the time and place in which I would conduct my observations. For instance, I would have to observe in more than one area in a city as one area could be more partial to crime incidents than another. In addition, if I was to take it one step further to assertively affirm validated results I could vary the city rather than just solely the location within a city. Another possibility to ensure the delivery of non bias research could be to get a variety of people to observe as well as myself as everyone has a different manner of thinking and in response would take different things from the environment and behaviour seen.
The subject matters which I would observe would need to be carefully thought about, in the respect of what I wanted to get out of my observations. Would it need to be a cross-section of people or would it be an age group which would be the most liable to commit a crime?
Another key aspect I project I would assess would be whether I could find a pattern or certain structure in the observed behaviour?
In order not to assume results and rely on solely this one method, ethnography, I feel it would be useful to undertake others to feed my research in a fuller manner. The other method taught this semester was that of interviewing. In relation to my chosen topic of discussion I could easily have a variety of subjects which I could interview to get a wide spectrum of results from many angles for example, bar and club owners and staff, the police, taxi drivers and the general public. This again would feed me with ampules of qualitative first hand research. I would write up a pilot interview to conduct before interviewing my real subject matters as this would allow me the most potential to gain the best information through getting my questions exactly spot on.
Finally a method I feel that would be highly useful which was not adapted this semester would be cultural probes. This method unlike observation which says more about what people do focuses on what people feel. It elicits information and helps access that difficult environment and captures more the emotional status. This could be a good variety and slant to approach my research with. Another advantage of culture probes would be that it is a method which is effective over a long time period which could be good for social behaviour and crime. Over the year for instance looking at when the peak times of crime occur and the variations in social behaviour at these times.
In conclusion to all the points outlined above I feel that I only scratched the surface last semester with regards to investigating my preferred topic. I have projected that I could hugely benefit through the use of the method of observation. The only downside I could see with this would be that if the subject matters being observed noticed you, an observer watching them they would probably be inclined to change their behaviour and as a result would disturb the results. However, in saying this I feel it would still be a throughly exciting and potentially successful body of research. The other methods I have mentioned where the act of interviewing and cultural probes. I clearly have a vision of how these two methods put together could have the potential to be fantastic as their qualities complement each other perfectly, and are on similar levels in the respect of gaining primary thoughts and feelings.
For the second part of this assignment the task is to choose a studio brief that I have tackled this year and reflect and discuss like I did in part A on how I could improve my manner of researching if I was to undertake the same assignment again. My chosen brief is going to be my self motivated project in which I was given free rein on a topic. The aim was to embark on a visual, exploratory and explanatory journey to further develop design thinking and production of textile designs. It was also a project in which I would gain experience in proposing and creating a self motivated body of work including a written synopsis.
To begin with the secondary research methods learnt in semester one, I would definitely brainstorm more concisely and thoroughly by possibly using the method of group discussion using post it notes as I think you can gain so much from listening to one another and be inspired by fellow peers. I found this exercise in semester one widened and deepened my thought process of brainstorming. This could have the potential of leading to more exciting and innovative ideas and perceptions. My focus was based upon the ideality of being alone and more directly solitude. I aspired to go on a journey which explored the theme of ‘solitude’ and to pose many questions such as what emotions are evoked from places of solitude? My aim was to make critical connections between the areas of solitude such as mountains, beaches and forests and the nature inhabited there. Furthermore, I intended to explore the emotional response to these places and connections.
The secondary research method, which is a very common but nonetheless extremely effective is research in literature. Reading and finding out facts, articles and documentaries related to a chosen topic. For this studio brief an example of this could be to look into fashion forecasting trends from highly regarded fashion magazines such as ‘Textile View.’ By thoroughly exploring these I feel it would give me a good solid base of what is already out there and give me a general indication of perhaps where the gaps are in the market so this in turn could spark inspiration for colour palettes and themes. Another approach I feel which would make my body of research more concise and comprehensive would be to conduct deeper research into current affairs and issues within society today, so read newspapers, and articles more often and even by listening to radio 4. Also using literature and secondary resources to gain contextual research, and to gain insights into designers and artists working in this field. For this solitude project looking into landscape artists and textile designers who were influenced by nature perhaps, or even designers who look at the emotional response of something as their source of inspiration.
With regards to first hand research methods from semester two, the possibilities are bountiful. Due to my interest into the emotional response to the areas of ‘solitude’ I could easily adopt the skills learnt to further develop my research to the next level. The concept of interviews fits ideally into this scenario. I could conduct them with a wide cross section of people on what their views and perceptions on what solitude is and find out what emotions they feel are evoked personally when they find themselves in these situations. The idea of what qualities makes an area peaceful, is it the naturalistic aspects and why we as human beings are either compelled towards the idea or repelled. There are many more questions which I could use, so to make my interview as successful as possible I would need to conduct a pilot interview to narrow it down and find out what the key elements of information I would want to gain were. Comparing the results would also be very interesting especially to find out the differences in opinions with people who love alone time, and solitude and people who are urban lovers.
Within the interview process I feel I could use the method of visual stimulus. For example, I could present a collection of places and ask them to describe to me what images portray this idea of solitude and how imagining you were in these places makes them feel, again referring back to emotional response. The final method of observation could also play a vital role in research for this brief. I could observe behaviour in the typical areas of solitude such as forests, beaches and mountains and then completely contrast this by observing areas of chaos such as major urban cities.This could make a really interesting find and could develop into rather complex and intriguing design based responsive work. One further idea within the method of observation would be to observe the behaviour in areas of solitude in different cultures opening the body of research within the project up to a new level.
For the interviews I would need to gain consent for my subject matters and within the observation method would need to place myself in an area which would not distract the environment making my results unreliable. By conducting primary research as well as secondary research I feel I would gain a better balance in my body of research and especially of non bias material.
Reflecting back over the last two semesters of design studies I feel I have learnt so many valuable skills which will help equip me and hopefully carry into level three as well as my career in the future. Through practice and use of these research methods I feel more confident that I could tackle many of the global issues and affairs within a brief which as a young designer I feel is an excellent skill to have and to begin to build upon at this early stage of my career. I aim to use many of these techniques in level three and hope that they will become more and more natural to me and become part of my set way of thought process when tackling a studio project brief.
Pease, A and B,(2007), "The definitive book of body language", Manjul Publishing House Pvt Ltd
Philippot, Feldman and Coats, P, R and E, (1999) “The Social Context of Nonverbal Behaviour”, Cambridge, The Press syndicate of the University of Cambridge.
Gladwell, M (2000) "The Tipping Point London":Abacus Little, Brown Book Company