Street Drinking, New Media Arts and Community Engagement

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Sch of Social Work


Street drinking is a complex problem and impacts negatively on wider communities while street drinking communities themselves are often claimed to provide fellowship and support to their members. Regarded as a public health problem and a public nuisance by wider communities, strategies to address the problems caused by street drinking include enforcement and environmental controls, harm reduction and treatment. However both hedonistic binge drinking and chronic addiction persist in the UK, and there are diverse reactions to it informed by religious and cultural traditions and moral/ethical convictions. Increasingly, excessive alcohol consumption is also presented as a public health issue. This proposal will bring New Media Arts and Humanities perspectives to bear on street drinking, conceived as a health problem and a key issue for connected communities.

The research questions posed in relation to the problems caused by street drinking are:

What role can New Media Arts play in engaging communities to address the issue?
What can an assets based approach offer in addressing the problems caused by street drinking?
Can community based strategies be realistically grounded in an ethical/theologial framework?
How can the sometimes conflicting socio-cultural interests at stake be accommodated?

Research Strategy
1)The academic team will work with FACT in Liverpool to investigate diverse community responses and assets in relation to street drinking, using FACT's established model of community inquiry, based on the methods of a local TV station. Community stakeholders engaged will include: residents, retailers, health and social care professionals, the leisure industry and cultural sector.
2) Information collected will feed into a live web-cast, hosted at FACT, enabling participation remotely or in person. This will be aimed at the whole community including those with experience of street drinking.
3)The film of the event will be a focus for a multi-disciplinary and cross-professional seminar, which will also discuss a dramaturgical enactment of responses to a street drinking problem scenario using the on-line virtual community 'Stilwell'. This interactive resource, will present a virtual case-study situation requiring a response from community members and services. It will engage seminar members cognitively and affectively in decision-making.
4)The seminar will consider the material presented to it via new media through three lenses:
a)a socio-cultural lens based on the work of cultural analyst Alfred Lorenzer (Bereswill et al 2010) in which cultural traditions of stakeholder communities are seen to inform perceptions and to influence each other.
b)an ethical/theological lens based on Cook (2006) who explores the basis in Christian ethics of 12 steps programmes used by Alcoholics Anonymous
c)An assets based social policy lens which seeks to identify community resources in addressing problems (Kretzmann & McNight 1993)
5) The recorded seminar discussion will be subject to in-depth panel analysis by the research team using an interpretive method derived from the socio-cultural lens. This method (Leithaeuser and Volmerg 1988) has been adapted for the analysis of visual data such as the web-cast and the Stilwill scenario (Froggett and Hollway 2010). It enables researchers to analyse decisions, utterances and actions within the context whole 'scenes' rather than as discrete events.
6)The final report directed at academics and communities of professional practice will detail:
a) the perspectives on street drinking developed by the seminar and their implications for policy and practice in the areas of public health and community connectedness.
(b)the value of New Media in raising community awareness, enhancing community participation, and mobilising community assets to address problems caused by street drinking.

Planned Impact

In the first instance the research will benefit the partner organisation FACT in assessing and explaining the specific contribution of their models of community engagement to the problem of street drinking. This will have wider implications for other organisations wishing to use new media arts as compared with traditional text-based public information/education materials.
In the second instance it will offer new ways of conceptualising the complex causes of street drinking, and possible solutions to the problems caused to communities by street drinking. It will inform local policy and practice communities responsible for devising sustainable strategies which will differ from approaches currently in use in that they are designed to promote community engagement, deliberation and ownership in the contexts of public health and community connectedness. The research will also have contribute to the wider evidence base informing effective interventions in this area thus generating longer term benefits for street drinkers and for practitioners, researchers, the wider international research community, policy makers and the general public.

Impact on practice
The community based inquiry and webcast will provide an opportunity for those taking part, including participants and professionals involved with participatory arts for health activities, to connect with others to share information, knowledge and experience in relation to community assets which can be mobilised to address the problems posed by street drinking. It will enable participants to consider how such assets might change and enrich current professional practice. In turn this will inform commissioners and funding bodies contributing to the support and development of arts and health based approaches to these problems.
The seminar and subsequent analysis will make a conceptual and theoretical contribution to the field in respect of the contribution of Arts and Humanities based approaches to addressing what is perceived as an intractable social problem. Using the Stilwell learning resource will ensure that the experiential dimension and the strong emotions aroused by street drinking are not neglected. This will contribute to an understanding of the psychosocial pathways whereby street drinkers become de-humanised and stigmatised - provoking community 'disconnection' from a group of people, some of whom are very vulnerable and struggle to attract public sympathy.

Impact on policy
The research will promote effective planning, by identifying the resources needed for sustainable community based strategies in this field, which will complement existing strategies of harm reduction, enforcement and treatment by foregrounding the importance of intra- and inter- community relations in the formulation of policy. The project will also forge connections between policy areas including arts, culture and health, identifying assets and resources within the arts and health sector for programme and project development.

Impact on the Public
The community inquiry and live webcast are designed to provide a deliberative space, using new media - a virtual agora - which will appeal to different sections of the public and offer a forum in which many voices can be heard. It will facilitate inclusion of hard to reach groups though interactive participation. It will appeal to young people who are at the centre of Liverpool's binge drinking culture, and whose views are difficult to engage by more conventional methods of community consultation. By raising public awareness and debate it will seek to establish the principle that behaviours which cause friction between members of communities can be addressed by community ownership of the problem. Web-based dissemination will ensure that the experience is easily accessible to communities elsewhere.


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Froggett, L. (2014) Between Art and Social Science: scenic composition as a methodological device in • Between Art and Social Science: scenic composition as a methodological device, FQS (Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung) 15,3

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Froggett, L. (2015) The Visual Matrix Method: imagery and affect in a group-based research setting in Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research

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Haga Gripsrud B (2018) Psychosocial and Symbolic Dimensions of the Breast (author accepted manuscript) in NORA (Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research)

Description The usefulness of creative writing techniques for conveying findings where aesthetic and emotional experience are significant

Live Web-casting does offer the possibility of a real/virtual forum to debate public issues

On-line interventions are more likely to be solipsistic, subversive and heedless of the moral economy of a debate than a moderated forum where people tend to be more respectful of one another

Web-casting proves to be a useful means of enlarging public participation and identifying community assets
Exploitation Route the research validates live web-casting to create a public a real/virtual public forum. However the possible difference in tenor, language, sensitivity and moral responsibility between real and personal contributions needs to be taken into account in the moderation of such events
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The methodological development of the scenic composition in this study has been carried forward as a tool for synthesising and presenting complex data on emotional, aesthetic and social experience. it has proved valuable as a public engagement tool in relation to visual matrix findings from a number of projects. The visual matrix ( developed through AH/L006189/1) has been influential in arts evaluation and short training events have been held for the arts sector. Scenic composition has proved an effective way to communicate the quality of a visual matrix for these audiences.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

Description Asset mapping: Street Drinking Liverpool
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Local action led by agencies participating in research to develop effective solutions to street drinking Creation of a real/virtual forum which enabled communities in conflict to debate local solutions to street drinking
Description New media arts 
Organisation Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Providing research for FACT to help inform development of new media arts programmes among stakeholders concerned with Street Drinking in Liverpool
Collaborator Contribution Provided a forum, local community contacts, contacts with agencies concerned with street drinking technological resources and support to host live webcast; participated directly in webcast; Conducted vox pops among local community as initial stimulus for webcast debate
Impact New media arts research/report Healthy Spaces evaluation (follow on evaluation projects project) for the Healthy Spaces programme developed by FACT for the NHS Interactive seminar on street drinking and solutions to issues arising in the Ropewalks district of Liverpool; ongoing partnership for funding application (Australian Research Council) in conjunction with University of New South Wales;
Start Year 2014
Description Academic seminar day on the effects of the use of new media to understand the issues surrounding street drinking in the Ropewalks district of Liverpool 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Interest in the theme of new media in relation to issues of substance misuse translated into potential new partnerships involving the use of mobile phone technology

The use of the scenic composition methodology in the area of substance misuse has led to further uses of visual thinking applications in the field
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
Description Feedback to local stakeholders about the potential of new media on improving issues around street drinking in Liverpool 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Interest in the use of new media to bind together the disparate services that are concerned with street drinking.

Informed local stakeholders and alcohol agencies on prospects for digital forum
Achieved asset mapping to inform local policy
Consolidated inter-agency working with partner agency (FACT)
Led to further collaboration with FACT and eventually to New partnership with University of New South Wales
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
Description Presentation to Arts and Health Network Seminar Series (ESRC funded) Bristol 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Intensive discussion and links made with other presenters

Further invitations co collaborate
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
Description Presentation to specialist methods group seminar convened under Cultural Value Programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Fed into stream on work on innovative ( arts and social science based methodologies) to inform programme outcomes

led to further successful funding application ( AHRC) to develop and test derivative methodology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
Description Stakeholder feedback community engagement with public art in Ilfracombe 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Sparked interest in how this information could inform local and regional policy in using the potential of public art for the regeneration of Ilfracombe and surrounding areas

Regional council members and Harbourmaster expressed a new understanding of the issues related to public art and its potential for regeneration
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013