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What can participant-generated drawing add to health geography’s qualitative palette?

Coen, Stephanie



Nancy E. Fenton

Jamie Baxter


Deploying participant-generated drawing as a research method presented me with two new challenges. The first is rather personal. Although I am convinced that drawing is a valuable method and stand by what I have written in this chapter, I wrestled with the internal dilemma that I am far from a drawer myself. Dabbling in drawing as a method has helped me to realize just how very much I think through writing. I literally formulate my ideas by putting words down on the page and moving them around until concepts and arguments take shape. From the outset I was aware that drawing might not be the best method for me if the roles were reversed – indeed part of my rationale for piloting this method was to engage with this dissonance. Two realizations have helped me to contend with this discrepancy. For one, my findings make clear that there are a number of methodologically significant reasons to use drawing to explore men’s and women’s experiences in gym environments and in health geography research more widely. No single qualitative method is a perfect fit for everyone and it could be equally problematic to avoid drawing simply because of my own personal communicative preferences if it is a productive method for the research question. Next, the overall experience of my participants with drawing was positive – even for the one who preferred not to draw! This participant was able to embrace the activity yet still honor her preference for words (this could have been me!).


Coen, S. (2016). What can participant-generated drawing add to health geography’s qualitative palette?. In N. E. Fenton, & J. Baxter (Eds.), Practicing Qualitative Methods in Health Geographies (131-152). Abingdon, Oxon & New York, NY: Routledge

Online Publication Date Jul 15, 2016
Publication Date Aug 1, 2016
Deposit Date Mar 11, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 3, 2019
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Pages 131-152
Book Title Practicing Qualitative Methods in Health Geographies
Chapter Number 8
ISBN 9781472445391
Public URL
Related Public URLs
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Practicing Qualitative Methods in Health Geographies on 15 July 2016 available online:


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