Reflections on the Gratitude Enquiry

Mayo, Sue. 2017. 'Reflections on the Gratitude Enquiry'. In: The Performance of Care. Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, United Kingdom December 15th 2017. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

The Gratitude Enquiry

Throughout 2016 I have been running a series of pilot projects, as part of my research into what connects participants to one another in the participatory arts. I became interested in Gratitude in my search for a deeper understanding of what I understood to be transactions between people in groups with whom I worked. While people were sometimes only attracted to projects because of what they might learn, gain, or explore, as individuals, I often observed, and certainly desired, the creation of bonds between people, in ways that could deepen and enrich the personal learning and discovery. Research into Gratitude emphasizes the pro-social aspects of the ability to feel thankful and express thanks. Jo-Ann Tsang (2006) describes Gratitude as 'other-oriented', which 'supports the pro-social and inhibits the destructive' Emmons and Shelton , quoting Streng '89 point to a wider sense of belonging. [ ] people recognize that they are connected to each other in a mysterious way that is not fully determined by physical forces but is part of a wider or transcendent context

These researchers suggest that the ability to feel gratitude, that is to acknowledge that one needs something from others, is absolutely crucial both to mental health and to the formation of social bonds; relationships, communities and mutuality.

In this paper I will explore the learning that arose from the three projects: I live in it, a dance project exploring thankfulness to the body; Fanmail, a visual arts project creating Fans and turning them into Thank you letters, and Bread, and exploration of how baking together unearths stories, and enacts a creative process that is full of reciprocal gestures. I will endeavour both to articulate what I observed happening, and what was explicitly explored, in the reciprocal dialogue of offering, receiving and acknowledging gifts and needs.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Kindness, Kinship, Connectivity, Gratitude, Participatory arts

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP) > The Pinter Centre for Performance and Creative Writing (PCPCW)


15 December 2017Completed

Event Location:

Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, United Kingdom

Date range:

December 15th 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Mar 2018 11:39

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:44


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