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  • 00:01

    [MUSIC PLAYING]My name's Angus Bancroft.I'm a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh.I do a variety of research into drugs and alcohol use,and human trafficking.

  • 00:22

    My case studies research into women and alcohol use.Particularly young women.And particularly the relationshipto pleasure and alcohol use.How they find pleasure.What they create to make alcohol more pleasurable for them.How they deal with the risks around drinkingand what their views are of attemptsto control their drinking.

  • 00:43

    So to do that we've carried out researchwith young women who are studentsat the University of Edinburgh.And they've helped us out by providing written and videoaccounts of their alcohol use.And they've allowed us to gain accessto all kinds of situations, as researchers,we wouldn't before.And they've really given us an insider perspective.

  • 01:05

    This shows us the subtleties and the ways in which they managealcohol use to benefit themselves,to get the most pleasure and enjoyment from it.And it's given us, really, their perspectiveon what we call their agency.Their ability to construct things as they want.Which is often missing in research and commentary

  • 01:26

    on young women's drinking.Most public research and particularly a lotof political and media commentarysees young women's drinking as a problem for them.As entirely risky.As entirely a matter of their binge drinking,their over consumption.And it doesn't see why they might do that.Why they might find good things in that.

  • 01:48

    Even if it appears risky to an outsider.So we really want to put their own voice,and their own choice at the heart of what we were doing.And really put them at the heart of the research.So the method I used for the study is video ethnography.And what that involves is research participants recording

  • 02:12

    video of different settings and occasions they're involved in.So in the case of my research this would include settingslike parties, pubs, and nightclubs,people's flats when they're drinking before going out.People's flats when drinking havingcome back from an evening out.

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    All sorts of different places where the phenomenawe're interested in is happening.So where people are drinking.We want people to collect data on that.And video ethnography is simplest.It's just the research participantsselecting different occasions to record some video of.

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    And this might be very raw footageof people standing around smoking a cigarand having a drink.Or it might be footage of a nightclub.Or it might be footage of a pre-drinking occasionat a flat.And this means it varies a lot.

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    So some of the video can be very, very forlorn,for It can be very loud and noisy.And very hard to tell what's going on.Some of it can be much more elaborate,where people are talking to the camera about whatthey're doing.So there's more commentary involved.So it's a range.What you end up with is a range of different kinds of video.

  • 03:39

    With different kinds of qualities.And some of them are more explicitly about whatthe research is and have more explicit commentary in it.Some is much more just raw ethnography, really.And we ended up with all these different kinds of video.And it's part of the research process,is ensuring that you don't just have one sort of video

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    because otherwise you probably will end up with some prettyuseless material.With material you can't interpret.So what you need is different kinds of video.And that includes people recording their own diaries,for example.Which is very good, a very rich kind of reflectionthat you can get.So just their thoughts after something has happened.So you don't necessarily have to film what's going on,

  • 04:23

    they could just talk to a camera about what's been done.So we're using that much more like classic researchdiary which is a very established methodin Sociology.Video ethnography, or the recording raw video footage,really raw documentary footage of something that's happening,is that much more unusual to make yourself.

  • 04:46

    And for that reason it's sometimeshard to know what to do with it.So what we did was we involved the researchparticipants in commenting on the video they collected.So they would talk you through it,they would comment on what was happening.They would give us really important context to it.And context is really key.

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    You can't just end up with a set of video materialthat doesn't mean anything.You need to get the context and thatrequires a person who was there telling you about it.So it's really more of the ethnography of it.That gives it a rich kind of backgroundto what was going on.And that's a vital part of rounding out what you have.

  • 05:27

    So we asked our students who were involved in the researchto record these different kinds of videos.And we gave them-- we had an initial meeting with themand we told them what we were looking for.We were looking for different drinking occasions.And we wanted them to just record it.And then we'd meet with them and review what they had.And talk over more what our expectations and what

  • 05:50

    their expectations were of that.So they would, for example, sometimesthink that we wanted really very highly polished, professionallooking video.Which we didn't.Some of the most interesting material was nothing like that.It would sometimes get very blurred.Hard to make out.A bit of video that was fantastic because it

  • 06:11

    really captured something very interesting.So partly it's in the process of matching upyour expectations of what's wanted is really key there.And again that's interesting as well,and I think the important point there is notto force your own expectations on the people you'reresearching with.

  • 06:31

    Because they will come up with some very interesting thingsthat you hadn't thought of at all.That you might not have considered.The important point is to be as open as possible at the start.Not to reject video just because itdoesn't look very interesting.Or maybe because it isn't very explicit about what it means.That video might be really important and mean a lot.

  • 06:52

    All this video came in as the research progressed.And it's very important to analyze and reflecton it as it's coming in.And not to think that you might get a huge amount of videothat you can just then make something of.That you can just interpret the end,because you need to understand the context

  • 07:12

    in which that video material is being produced.That's why it's really important to havethe participants involved in the research all the way through.To have ongoing discussions with them about what the video is,and what it means.For the first stage in setting upthis research is ensuring all the technical details

  • 07:34

    are right.And that involves making sure that people are involved.If your students-- if students are involved-- -have the means to record different events with usingvideo methods.Many people, I understand, have accessto video recording material in the form of a smartphone.

  • 07:57

    But not everyone owns one.Not everyone necessarily wants to use their own smartphone.And in a situation like this, another technical issueis deciding how you share it as well.Do you, say, upload it to a Dropbox?Or share it in a Cloud folder?Do you get them to come in with it?You have them come in and upload it to a computer.These are very big files as well.

  • 08:18

    So there's a lot of data there to transfer.So these are important things to get straight.And you want that to be as simple as possible.Because you want everybody to know what they're doingand feel confident when they're doing it.Also in the early stages it's important to talkthrough how people are meant to select what they're recording.It's very easy to think you should just

  • 08:39

    record everything and end up with a huge amount of video.That, again, is impossible to manage.And, again, doesn't mean a lot because it's justkind of everything.What would you select from that?So you might want to talk throughabout how they might go about selecting different events.How much they might want to record of it.And sometimes you can just start very small.

  • 09:01

    So just with a little late memoir.Maybe a few minutes of some footagethat they then talk through afterwards.And then you start talking about how you might select somethinga bit different from that.Maybe something when something else happening.Or some other people were involved.So it's important to start fairly generally because youcan easily get overwhelmed with the amount of datathat you've got.

  • 09:23

    And then also, think through the ethics of it as well.That's very important that everybody'sagreed about different ethical practices, ethical standardsthat should be involved.What consent means, for example.And consent isn't always possible to obtainin a big occasion with lots of people there.And it's not always very meaningful as well.So it's important that people are happy and comfortable

  • 09:46

    with that.Comfortable with their own and other people'simages being recorded too.You've got some video and you wantto review it with the people who've collected it.And they give you the context for understandingwhat that video means.So this is a key stage.

  • 10:06

    It gives meaning to what you've collected.And the process there is to reviewthe data, video data that you've gotand write down what your thoughts are on it.What your responses to it are.What your thoughts are of what's going on.And then talk it through with the people who've collected it.

  • 10:26

    Say, I think this is happening.What do you think about it?They give you then the crucial contextas to what's going on there.What's happening there.It's important that you acknowledgethe different viewpoints on what was happening.And not treat the camera has the ultimate arbiter,

  • 10:47

    the key viewpoint on everything.It's another data collection tool.It's not the thing with the final say,with the fixed meaning.I think we all know that cameras,and video recording, and photographsonly show partial accounts of what reality is.

  • 11:08

    So one of the uses of this methodis allowing the researchers accessto situations in places that might be difficult to gainaccess to normally.They might be places where, as researchers, itwould be very time consuming to gain access to.

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    It might simply destroy the situationthat you're researching if you were there.Your presence might be just impossible.It might be awkward.It might change the situation radically.So this allows you to get data on situations

  • 11:53

    which are private.Which are personal.Which simply might be more marginal to research.And these can be not just private,in the sense of in the private space, or domestic space.But places which are private to peopleeven though they're in public places.So, for example, activities like drinking a public park,

  • 12:15

    for example.By young people who are underage.It would be very hard to be there.And these are very difficult placesto gain access to anyway.So the second use of this kind of methodis to expand the sample of your research.

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    You can involve many more people in your researchthan you would simply doing it yourself on your own.And in this it draws on the sociological traditionof mass diary research that began with the mass observationstudies of the 1940s.And that was where people, and just ordinary people,

  • 12:57

    were given diaries to complete by researchers.So they'd write up events that were important to themin their day.And this method has very similar advantages to that.So the third use of this method is to highlight powerin the process of research.

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    And ideally to reduce the power differential, the powerbarrier between researchers and the people we're researching.So it can have a political and ethical advantage as well.Because the people that you're researching onare also researchers who are involved with you.

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    They have more of a say and a voice in the research processthan they would otherwise.And it's very important, particularlywhen researching personal, private activities,such as drinking, to reduce these barriers and these powerdifferences.Because far too often in research

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    people are often spoken about, and spoken for, rather thanspeaking for themselves.And this method allows people to have their own voice.And that doesn't just again happen naturally,it needs to be managed.You need to review it with the people you're working with.You need to be listening to them.You need to be asking them their views on what's happening.

  • 14:21

    But it can give them a say in waysthat are very difficult using more traditional methods whichinvolve researching people when something is being done.So interviewing them after an activity.Or observing them after they've been doing something.It gives them a much more rich voice.A much more full voice.Because one thing we often forget as social scientists is

  • 14:45

    the people we're researching, theydon't talk like social scientists-- thank god.They don't speak in the form of discourse that power takes.There are some challenges and difficultiesin this research method.One, it's relatively labor intensive.

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    You have to keep people's interest in the researchas a continuous process.It's not like interviewing somebody and then forgettingabout them.You have to keep people involved.And you have to keep coming back to them.So that means you have to make themfeel they're being appropriately involvedin the research process.And that they have a stake in it.

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    So you have to ensure the people can come to meetings wherethey can review the video data you've collected.And that they'll be available to be interviewed,say at the end of the study, if youwant them to talk about the video they've got.So that can be quite involved.And it can be very helpful if you'vegot an existing group where you can do that with.

  • 15:51

    So it might be a social group.It might be, as in our case, a group students.Of course, you're going to be around a campus anyway.And so I think that is quite important.And if you're doing it with a more, maybemore disparate group, ensuring that youhave means to stay in touch with them as things go along.

  • 16:11

    So that you can get back in touch with them.And be prepared for what happens in any research which is,of course, they drop out.People will just lose touch quite naturally.They might not turn out.Decide they're not that interested in the research.They might just lose touch, move on to other things.And that's OK.But you need to allow for that and factor that in.

  • 16:34

    And also not get too upset when that happens.And make sure that you can deal with that.That data collection can still continue despite that.So the data produces issues around ethics and privacy.The ethical issues are, of course,how you obtain consent within settings where

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    not everybody involved might know that researchis being conducted.Is it legitimate then to record that?Can you make use of that data?And that raises, of course, issues of privacy.People might be identifiable through that video data.Because of course it includes their images and their voices.How do you control that?How do you process that data so it doesn't identify them?

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    How do you deal with that data maybe being distributedmore widely than you'd like.And these are issues that many peopleface just quite naturally through the kind of imagesthat we share of each other through social media.So people face these challenges oftenin their day to day lives.So we can both make use of that, because of course peoplehave to navigate those problems, but it also

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    means you to have to take great carenot to be too casual about it.Because people can be very relaxed about sharingtheir own personal information these days,but that doesn't mean that we, as researchers, don't havethe extra responsibility of ensuring peopledon't expose themselves in ways that they might not like.

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    The findings for the project were that women, obviously,seek pleasure.That was part of their identity, wasbeing competent and good at finding pleasure in drinking.And this is very important to their drinking behavior.And really part of why they would drink.

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    Drinking would often be risky for them.Because there is risks of transgressingsocial boundaries.Breaking social norms.And that can present risks for them as well.You know, being too drunk.Maybe being judged for being too drunk.And that was also very important to avoid that.And they'd avoid that partly through tryingto build up social relationships and friendships

  • 18:45

    with other people, other women, whowere going to go out drinking.And that made the pre-drinking occasion very importantin that.That was a key part of preparing for a good night out.In conclusion, the method is veryuseful for collecting rich data on a varietyof different social settings.And conducting research where the researcher is really

  • 19:09

    led by not necessarily just their own interestsbut those of the people they're researching.So it's a very dynamic and very reflexivemethod that could produce some real subtleties in datacollection.[MUSIC PLAYING]


Dr. Angus Bancroft describes his research into the relationship of women to pleasure and alcohol use. His video ethnography project asked young women to make video recordings of alcohol-related behavior and to reflect on it. He discusses the benefits and drawbacks of video ethnography, particularly privacy and ethical concerns.

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Researching Alcohol Use and Young Women Using Video Ethnography

Dr. Angus Bancroft describes his research into the relationship of women to pleasure and alcohol use. His video ethnography project asked young women to make video recordings of alcohol-related behavior and to reflect on it. He discusses the benefits and drawbacks of video ethnography, particularly privacy and ethical concerns.