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This paper considers the ethical aspects of co-producing visual representations of communities in the context of economic deprivation, focusing on one case study within a UK-wide research study funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The research explores how the arts and humanities can enable community members to better express aspects of their health and wellbeing to policy makers and service providers, looking in particular at the stigmatising and often shaming practices of representation that have dominated British mass media in recent years. The methodology for the research follows a participatory action research epistemology, whereby researchers work with participants and other stakeholders to co-produce data and artistic outputs. The ethical dimensions of this work are complex and go beyond issues of consent, confidentiality and ownership; although these were strongly present in the research. This paper presents data from focus groups, arts workshops and field notes to illustrate the complexity of working co-productively with visual methods, and the ethical challenges this presents, as well as the need to create ‘safe’ spaces for dialogue and social action.
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