The visual matrix: a psycho-social method for discovering unspoken complexities in social care practice

Manley, Julian orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2548-8033 and Roy, Alastair Neil orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4807-7352 (2017) The visual matrix: a psycho-social method for discovering unspoken complexities in social care practice. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 22 (2). pp. 132-153. ISSN 1088-0763

[thumbnail of MensRoomVM-articleFINAL190116.pdf] PDF - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


Official URL:


The visual matrix is a participatory research method that has been developed by the Psychosocial Research Unit, University of Central Lancashire. A full account of the methodology is beyond the scope of the current paper but is provided in Froggett et al, 2014; 2015 and Manley et al, 2015.
The visual matrix has emerged from the practice of social dreaming, (Lawrence, 2005, Biran, 2007; Sievers, 2007, 2008; Manley, 2009, 2010; Mersky, 2013). Its development has also been understood in terms of Deleuzian ontology, in particular by understanding the creation of images in the visual matrix as an expression of affect in a ‘rhizomatic’ fashion; and with the Lorenzerian concept of scenic understanding, where the relationships between the images and the participants acquire meaning through their perception as a scenic whole, (Froggett et al, 2014, 2015; Manley et al, 2015). It has been used in different research contexts and is situated among other psycho-social methods that explore ways of understanding social phenomena through thoughts and feelings that lie ‘beneath the surface’, (Clarke and Hoggett, 2009).
In this paper we explore the use of the visual matrix as one element of a research project which explored an organisation supporting vulnerable, marginalised young men over 12 months. The other methods used in the project were (1) participant observation (Spradley, 1980), and (2) walking tour interviews (Pink, 2007; Ingold and Vergunst, 2008). The participant observation provided a detailed understanding of the day‐to‐day processes of the organisation as a cultural space and the relational components of the practices, while the walking tour interviews offered insight into the lived experience of young men surviving in the city, which were indexed to a series of city centre sites. They are both studied in greater depth in Hughes et al, 2014 and Roy et al, 2015.

Repository Staff Only: item control page