Developing documentary practices for sensitive contexts: video ethnography in the UK Hospice sector

McGorrian, Tom (2019) Developing documentary practices for sensitive contexts: video ethnography in the UK Hospice sector. DProf thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Among the challenges for documentary makers are issues of ethics surrounding the portrayal of participants and remaining faithful to both the ethics and the topic in making a compelling work. In the sensitive environment of a hospice, my central consideration was to represent individuals with dignity and with sensitivity to the place, time and experience. The purpose was to develop documentary practice in sensitive contexts and the aim to explore the capacity of documentary and video ethnography methodologies to guide documentary researchers navigating ethical concerns in interviews with those of varying ages and experience, living out their final life-stage, and establish a means of addressing them. The specific topic was the defining of quality of life, as a notion, by the day hospice’s attendees and the practices, behaviours and attitudes impacting on this, capturing their voices on a vision for care.

This research harnessed video production in the UK hospice sector as an ethnographic process and case study, contributing to the field guidelines on greater refinement in approaching and managing the capture of vulnerable people’s perspectives. The developed procedures involved three key aspects of the proposed collaborative framework for documentary film-making: maintaining authenticity; ensuring authentic confidentiality; and awaiting the unfolding of outcomes.

In the production of the vignettes and short film as evidence, I considered how far the process of evidencing – recording and having on record such behaviours, attitudes and voices – might influence future practice. My contribution to knowledge is using collaborative documentary and video ethnographic practices to incorporate vulnerable people’s perspectives. Through the film artefacts and written thesis, my contribution to knowledge is the extension of an ethical, collaborative methodology that can be used further to capture the experiences of diverse participants in sensitive environments. This has been achieved through establishing a supportive documentary research framework in which the documentary filmmaker’s mediations are limited and participants themselves are prioritised across all stages of production.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
A. > School of Media and Performing Arts
B. > Theses
Item ID: 29899
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 13 May 2020 11:27
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:49

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