Visual research with young Roma: the collage

By Oana Marcu, Codici Agenzia di Ricerche

The focus groups conducted by the SRAP network were designed to use visual, creative productions made by participants themselves, which would reflect their perception on the drug issue. Creative research methods allow for the researchers to partially overcome language and literacy limitations, to give more time to participants to reflect on their own points of view, and to spend more time with them while doing something together.

In our study on Roma communities and drug use, we employed the collage technique: participants had to build representations of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs by cutting and gluing pieces of newspapers and magazines.

The collage was divided into three parts: “me and tobacco”, “me and alcohol”, “me and other drugs” in order to acknowledge the fact that the meanings associated to different drugs might differ.

These images were analyzed using metaphorical analysis, by mapping the source-domain (the images used) and the target-domain (the meanings they stood for) for each image used by participants as a symbol. Next to visual representations, participants also used words – written or talk – in order to explain their metaphors. In some cases, complex narratives were built, the main characters being the people featured in the visual production.

The collage task gave us a wealth of information regarding the type of drugs that are seen by youth as typical, the knowledge youth have regarding the ways of intake, the effects and the consequences of different drugs and  the criteria they apply for distinguishing between types of psychoactive substances.

Moreover, the visual productions allowed us to understand  what kind of social groups are perceived by youth as linked to drugs (e.g. celebrities, poor people, children, adults, etc.).

For more details on the results, consult our final report, “Understanding addiction in Roma communities” (available here).


Focus group, Caño Roto, Roma 11-13 and 14-16 years old and Focus Group, Valencia, Roma 11 to 13 years old

Move your mouse over the images in order to read the captions (when available).

Focus group, Bucharest, Roma 11-14 and 14-17 years old

Focus group of young Roma 11-13 and 14-17 years old, Slovenia