Creating Critical Festival Discourse through flexible mixed Methodological research design
Our chapter traces a path through previously published doctoral research (Jepson, 2009) which investigates the planning and construction of community cultural festivals. Socio-cultural phenomena such as festivals are multi-faceted and embrace all walks of life, culture and ethnic backgrounds. So much so that festivals cannot be separated from culture nor from their communities as they shape, represent and recreate their histories. Social reality in festivals and events is multiple, divergent, and interrelated, and as a direct result reality becomes the meaning attributed to experience and is therefore not the same for everyone (Cohen & Manion, 1987; Remenyi et al, 1998). From a methodological point of view festivals can pose many challenges to researchers such as; how to capture, record, and analyse the rich qualitative and quantitative data they produce across a variety of time periods, phases of festival planning, production and consumption. The research discussed in this chapter utilised a flexible and reflexive methodological approach which incorporated five data collection and three analysis techniques to capture and analyse primary data across the unique phases of a community festival. In particular the research aimed to reveal the distinct relationships between power, planning, production and consumption. Our chapter begins by examining the philosophical underpinning of the doctoral research, such as the use of social constructivism as a research philosophy and the integration of Guba and Lincoln’s (1985) four criterion of credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability to raise trustworthiness within qualitative research. Following this discussion we show how research questions, themes, and data can be operationalised into practical data collection methods in the field, and how the data was analysed to create a contribution to knowledge. We then centre our discussion on validity, limitations and ethical considerations which are thought to be unique to festival and event research environments. The final part of our chapter concludes upon research methodologies which could be employed within festivals and events research and discusses how this study has shaped judgement on our studies in community festivals.