Social interaction in interactive museum programmes: On-site guided tours and online collaborative programmes
This research explores social interaction during interactive museum programmes, including both on-site museum guided tours and online collaborative art programmes. It focuses particularly on the way in which people’s experience of museum exhibits emerges in and through the socially organised interactions. The research employs video-recordings of these interactive programmes as the principal data and draws its analytical orientation and methodological framework from Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis.
By explicating people’s interactional practices in both physical and virtual collaborative arts encounters, my research contributes to the growing body of research in arts marketing and cognate areas concerned with the ways in which the experience of art arises in interaction between people. The research is also relevant to the service marketing studies which examine social interaction during service encounters as well as the sociological studies concerned with people’s interactional practices at workplaces and other settings.
This research involves two main studies:
Social Interaction in On-site Guided Tours
- Background: Guided tours are one of the most common audience engagement techniques employed by museums. However, marketing scholars have shown little interest in studying these events.
- Principle Data: Video-recordings of on-site guided tours in various UK museums.
- Analytical Interests: The social organisation of guided tours and the way in which experience of museum exhibits emerges in and through interactions among visitors and guides.
Social Interaction in Online Collaborative Programmes
- Background: In response to the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic and the shutdown of their physical sites, museums have provided a wide variety of online programmes and activities. Besides a large number of online events designed for individual engagement with artworks, museums have also offered activities that allow people to view and discuss works of art in collaboration with others. Little is known about how people collaboratively experience works of art in online environments.
- Research Setting: An online art programme run weekly in Zoom Meeting in which museum staff encourage visitor participants to engage in interactive and in-depth discussions about a few selected artworks.
- Principle Data: Video-recordings of the weekly Zoom Meeting sessions.
- Analytical Interests: The interactional practices of participants in the virtual environment and the way in which people shape one another’s experience of virtual arts objects.
Regarding both kinds of data, the video-recorded guided tours and the recordings of online events, I use ethnomethodology as my analytic attitude and methodological techniques from conversation analysis.
The research hopes to contribute to current debates on social interaction and virtual aesthetic experience within arts/cultural marketing literature and visitor studies. It will also make a modest contribution to the service marketing studies investigating customer experience at both physical and virtual services encounters as well as the sociological studies concerned with people’s interactional practices at workplaces and other settings. Practical implications for museum and marketing practitioners are also produced.