The creative turn in urban participatory exploration & investigation

Thursday, April 25, 2024 - 11:00 to 13:00
Room 1.28, 1st Floor, TSI Building

Please contact if you would like to attend.



  • Maggie O Neill, Professor in Sociology & Criminology at University College Cork and Director of ISS21, Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century and UCC Futures: Collective Social Futures.
  • Mervyn Horgan, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Guelph, CANADA
  • Saara Liinamaa, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Guelph, CANADA
  • Chair, Dr. Pauline Cullen, Department of Sociology, MU

​“A growing catalog—or hive, to use a metaphor that emphasizes collaborative and transformative constellations—of new and innovative creative methods for various disciplinary and interdisciplinary urban inquiries demonstrates a wide array of theoretical approaches, critical concepts, and scholarly techniques. These include data walking, performative mapping, experimental ethnography, dramaturgical or interface analysis, and curatorial, or action-based research methods to activate and mobilize innovative approaches to data collection, analysis, and situated forms of knowledge production.” [i]

Speaker Bios:
Before joining UCC, Maggie O’Neill was Chair in Sociology & Criminology in the Department of Sociology at the University of York, and Professor in Criminology at the University of Durham and Principal of Ustinov College. She is an inter-disciplinary scholar, and most of her empirical research uses participatory action research, ethnographic and biographical methods, and participatory arts. She has a long history of working with artists and community groups to conduct arts-based research. Maggie has published widely on themes of social justice, advocacy and belonging pertaining to, amongst others, migrants, asylum-seekers, and sex workers.

Mervyn Horgan and Saara Liinamaa, are lead co-investigators on the Sociable Cities Project (funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant) a project that studies sociability and belonging in public space. They aim to understand how solidarity manifests (or not) through ordinary encounters between strangers in complex multicultural societies across a range of mundane public settings like parks, ice rinks, sidewalks, street fairs, and public transit.

Mervyn’s research gathers an eclectic set of interests grounded in a normative commitment to solidarity. His expertise is in social theory, cultural sociology, the sociology of everyday life, urban sociology, and housing studies. He’s especially interested in the relationship between largely invisible structural forces and everyday experience. He studies copresence (when people are physically present together) in everyday urban life, through research on public spaces where strangers mingle, where solidarity is passively produced, tenuously assumed, or threatened with dissolution. He is co-editing a collection, The Civil Sphere in Canada with Prof. Jeffrey Alexander, bringing together Canadian and international scholars to explore questions of solidarity and justice in Canadian society.

Saara is a cultural sociologist interested in creativity and everyday life. As a qualitative researcher, her research agenda combines critical analysis and meaning-centred cultural interpretation with an overarching interest in how individuals and organizations navigate conditions of uncertainty. She has published work on urban life and public space, migrant agricultural labour, art and cultural theory, and creative work and occupations. Her recent book, The New Spirit of Creativity (UTP), was awarded the CSA 2023 Canadian Sociology Book Award.

[i] Merx, S, C.Kanters, Lange and N Verhoeff. 2023. “Introduction: Creative Urban Methods-Generative and Situated Practices for Researching the City.” in Mediapolis: A journal of life and culture, Dossiers No 4, Vol. 8, Nov 13.

Picture credit: Professor Aphra Kerr