A sociological exploration of the affective and emotional labour in the experiences of museum community engagement outreach facilitators
This research explores the work and role of museum community engagement facilitators in central Scotland. Museum community engagement is increasingly significant in museum practice and, as such, this research calls for a more nuanced understanding of the role(s) played by its facilitators. In particular, the affective and emotional dimensions of their work are explored. Utilising Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis as methodology and data analysis technique, the participants’ descriptions, reflections and sensemaking in relation to their work and practice form the basis of the study. The six semi-structured interviews with museum community engagement practitioners reveal the complexity of their professional role in managing participant-centred programmes or projects in a, sometimes, testing environment. In accordance with the existing limited knowledge in this area, this research unveils the practical and emotional challenges of museum community engagement work. However, as previously undiscussed in academic literature, the participants’ placed much emphasis on equality in the facilitator/participant relationship, the recognition of project participants’ expertise and how such expertise can be mobilised through supportive facilitation. Underpinning their experiences are similarly hybrid forms of emotional and affective labour. In all, their accounts evidence the multi-layered role of museum community engagement facilitators and the necessity for an increased awareness and appreciation of the work they perform.