The project demonstrates the ability of performative social science to bring social scientific research to larger and broader audiences, to touch audiences on both emotional and cognitive levels, and to make a meaningful difference to the lives of participants and others in their community.
Five themes were elicited from an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the interview data: awareness and understanding of dementia; clarity and confusion; social support and relationships; living with dementia; and life lived. Together, these themes narrate the lived experiences of people with dementia, demonstrating their awareness both of the difficulties presented by dementia and the negative perceptions of others around this condition. These findings are discussed in Gregory (under review).
The first run of the exhibition attracted a total of 894 visits, and an estimated total reach of approximately 9,510 people (including exhibition visitors, audience at outreach talks, listeners to radio broadcasts, visitors to internet platforms and other project offshoots). This audience is expected to continue to grow as the project continues to be promoted online, through conference presentations and through articles such as Gregory (2014a) in Forum: Qualitative Social Research and Gregory (2014b) in The Psychologist magazine. Many visitors reported that their views had been challenged by their experience of the exhibition and that they had a fuller understanding of personhood in dementia. Others arrived already valuing a person-centred approach to dementia. For this latter group, the display served a different function, reinforcing their convictions and, in some cases, providing them with a medium through which they could communicate these to others.
Gregory (2014a) expands on this analysis with reference to Jones’ (2007) six core criteria for evaluating performative social science work. Gregory’s article explores the extent to which the project met Jones’ criteria with reference to data from feedback questionnaires, footfall figures, guestbook comments, emails and participants’ reflections.