Guide to Imagework: Imagination-Based Research Methods

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Siriporn Kobnithikulwong


We are immersed in imagery. We have images of ourselves and images that we portray to the world. We rehearse future action and decision
by imagining how things would be if we did this or that. …We can read intensity of mental imagery as compelling us to act, believe ourselves in love
or to be at one with the divine.

Dr. Iain R. Edgar – an expert in the anthropology of the imagination – uses the above statement to convince readers of the importance of imagery
and introduce a new approach of qualitative social science research, called imagework. The imagework approach is defined as “an active process in which
the person ‘actively imagining’ lets go of the mind’s normal train of thoughts and images and goes with
a sequence of imagery that arises spontaneously from the unconscious” (Edgar, 2004, p. 7). Edgar
strongly believes that imagery influences us in all activities we create, and imagework can discover
and evoke our hidden knowledge and self-identities in a way that other methods in social sciences cannot.


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