Festival of Social Sciences Photographic Exhibition

As part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science, the A Space for Sharing project developed a photographic exhibition featuring a series of powerful photographic images by photographer Anton Want, and quotations illustrating findings from the studies.


The exhibition aimed to capture the emotions and experience of forum users and interviewees from all of the projects and convey their stories through the use of short text excerpts from the research.

The exhibition was opened by Professor Gill Valentine, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield in Sheffield Winter Gardens on Monday 31st October 2016. It was then displayed at:

  • the Wellcome Trust, London (May 2016)
  • King’s College, London (April 2017)
  • Lincoln Drill Hall (May 2017).

A selection of images were displayed at:

  • the NHS at 70 event, Sheffield Cathedral forecourt (July 2018)
  • T The Golden Thread: How Social Science Affects Us All (social sciences photographic exhibition)
  • Winter Gardens Sheffield (November 2018)

Please note that in order to protect the confidentiality of people living in very difficult circumstanceS, actors were used to re-create some of the scenarios described in the research.

Photographer - Anton Want

People who are experiencing an individual or collective crisis

Space for Sharing photography exhibition: "People who are experiencing an individual or collective crisis"

Left photo caption: 

It is impossible to tell, based on the vocabulary of media texts, which slant the source has (pro-government, neutral, or independent) and which source a given text belongs to. This becomes especially visible with the use of loaded words and labels, especially when the media are reporting on a conflict or otherwise taking sides.

Revolution of dignity


the golden loaf

Crimea is ours

bullet in the head

the heavenly hundred

Green men

Download full size photograph (PDF, 762kb)

Right photo caption:

"The country is a madhouse and its people are patients" RIA News (pro-government news agency)

With post-Euromaidan Ukraine, the use of loaded terms becomes especially visible in Russian mainstream online media, with pro-government outlets liberally making use of derogatory terms for the Ukrainian government and Ukrainians. Whilst it is still unclear who coined these terms, we find the Russian pro-government media using them religiously.

Download full size photograph (PDF, 808kb)

People who are experiencing a humanitarian crisis

Space for Sharing photography exhibition: "People who are experiencing a humanitarian crisis"

Left photo caption:

In the borderlands your nationality can change without you leaving home

If you live in the borderlands you cannot trust a man before you go through a large bag of salt with him

Download full size photograph (PDF, 832kb)

Right photo caption:

Barriers are borders for some, but opportunities for others

If you are looking for a cure for an illness you are more likely to find it across the border

Download full size photograph (PDF, 993kb)

People with a life-threatening or life-shortening condition

Space for Sharing photography exhibition: "People with a life-threatening or life-shortening condition."

Left photo caption:

The forum is mainly supportive: ideas, like-minded people, helping, supporting, getting on with life.

Having cancer can be quite lonely, and I think it mitigates the loneliness, the isolation

Empathy to me is understanding and fellow feeling

Sympathy is saying what people think you want to hear

Download full size photograph (PDF, 883kb)

Right photo caption:

You're desperate for some help really, and for some support in your situation

people talking about their own experiences and how they've managed to cope in difficult circumstances

when you read some of the stuff the carer's written and how it affects them...

it's heartbreaking really

...the people on this forum, they know how it feels, there's nothing like actually having to know how it feels

Download full size photograph (PDF, 964kb)

People who require an organ or tissue transplant

Space for Sharing photography exhibition: "People who require an organ or tissue transplant"

Left photo caption:

The number of living kidney donors is less constrained by ability to donate - the proportion of healthy donors who could potentially donate a kidney is greater than the number of those that die in circumstances compatible with donation.

The problem with market forces is that they may be no respecter of the weak and vulnerable

Download full size photograph (PDF, 792kb)

Right photo caption:

The idea of a beauty contest to see who lives and who dies certainly seems distasteful

but distasteful is not always unethical

increasing the empathy felt for potential kidney recipients could lead to an increased number of kidney donations

Download full size photograph (PDF, 858kb)

People who use illicit drugs

Space for Sharing photography exhibition: "People who use illicit drugs"

Left photo caption:

In the data there is evidence that when engaging in potentially risky, dangerous or ‘extreme’ drug related practices, collective online communication amongst those for whom this is ‘normal,’ collectively express a harm reduction ethos.

Download full size photograph (PDF, 687kb)

Right photo caption:

Radically anonymous, the individuals who contribute to, and constitute these spaces of sharing are ‘everyman’/’everywoman.’

Ordinary people of all ages/genders, not recognisable in the street, anyone you see could be a drug user.

Quietly getting on with it – life and drug taking.

Download full size photograph (PDF, 694kb)

People in extreme emotional distress or contemplating suicide

Space for Sharing photography exhibition: "People who are experiencing emotional distress."

Left photo caption:

For me the Internet is a window on the world sometimes because I just can’t face outside

I am here for you

I feel you

I am listening

Download full size photograph (PDF, 816kb)

Right photo caption:

I find it helpful to find and follow people on Twitter who are recovering or have recovered. I’ve found support that way. And it helps that I’m not on my own.

I feel like I am drowning

I push everyone away

No one cares

Download full size photograph (PDF, 743kb)

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