This week we welcome a new member to The Trust Map project team – Catherine Wilkinson starting as our post-doctoral researcher based at Durham University. She comes from the University of Liverpool, where she has just finished writing up her PhD. Welcome Catherine!
Hello! My name is Catherine, and I am a Research Associate on The Trust Map project, based at Durham University. This project investigates the formation, loss and reparation of trust within minority communities impacted by high levels of social and digital exclusion (see ‘about the project’ for more info). I am very excited to be part of the Trust Map, and the project aligns wonderfully with my research interests and ways of ‘doing’ research. I have recently completed my PhD in Human Geography at the University of Liverpool. This research involved 18 months of ethnographic research, where I employed a participatory approach in collaboration with young people at a community radio station. Together, the young volunteers and I explored the ways in which young people use community radio as a platform to find and realise their voices, build stocks of social capital, and create their own communities and senses of belonging. Throughout this project, I trained young people at the radio station in social research skills, including designing a bespoke listener survey, producing effective interview questions, and conducting focus groups. In turn, the young people trained me in radio broadcasting skills, which led me to becoming a fully-fledged on-air DJ, and to having my own weekly radio show!
For me, a participatory design is important, as I believe that research should not just be attempting to ‘find stuff out’, but it should be action and impact oriented. It is for this reason that I am employing a Participatory Action Research stance in the Trust Map project. I will be working with communities in County Durham and Haringey, North London, and my first task, as I begin the project, is to find out exactly what is going on in these communities. Because of the participatory design of the project, the focus will likely evolve as I observe people’s everyday activities as they interact/work together on various tasks. I am also interested in how people use technology (if at all) and their general feelings about popular digital tools, devices and processes. Conceptually, and theoretically, I am interested in finding out people’s views on trust in their community and neighbourhoods. Part of this, of course, is unearthing what trust means to different individuals I come into contact with throughout the research process. I have an interdisciplinary academic background (a Fashion degree, a Marketing masters, and a Geography PhD). Within each of these disciplines ‘trust’ is a slightly different beast, from an essential ingredient to building consumer relationships (marketing), to a vital constituent of social capital building within communities (geography). I hope to bring my creative interdisciplinary lens to this project to unearth cartographies of trust within County Durham and Haringey.
When I am not working on The Trust Map project, you will likely find me drinking far too many cups of tea, and enjoying walks with my family pug, Percy (pictured sneakily below).