Painting the Nails of Homeless Women: Using Manicures as a Methodological Tool
The Open Review
This article introduces the method I am planning on using for my PhD research: rethinking the traditional semi-structured interview by offering manicures to homeless women during conversation. There are several aims to this approach including creating a more comfortable research environment; open up unexpected conversations relating to the manicure; allow the participants to have autonomy over their body through choosing, designing or refusing their manicure; and thanking the homeless women for
... homeless women for their participation. At face value, a manicure might seem like a strange, if not trivial thing to bring into a research environment. However, as this article will argue, offering manicures to homeless women has the potential to not only benefit the participants themselves, but to enrich the research process itself and the findings which consequentially emerge. This article argues that this approach aligns with both creative geographical approaches to research (which allows the research to go in unexpected directions, often yielding interesting results) and feminist approaches to research (which emphasise participant wellbeing, empowerment and an alleviation of power relations). Together, this approach can contribute to more flexible and more ethical research, which is useful when researching with vulnerable groups such as those experiencing homelessness.