A recent study in Singapore brought us amongst the elderly, chatting, observing how they spend their leisure time. Void decks, homes, play grounds, parks were all part of the observation routes.
The brief was an open space brief and we let serendipity take its course in recruitment. And so as we hung about with the uncles and aunties we began to expand our scope of enquiry to include many others who are part of the entire system that the elderly are a part of. Not only did we hang out and speak with the uncles and aunties at the void decks but also with their grandchildren and their young 20 something ‘colleagues’ at McDonald’s and family members and different ‘kakis’.
This serendipitous recruitment approach (although not new) provided us a better view of the social system the elderly are a part of. And although we had less control over the process we had better understanding of the issue and its complexity.
We are now experimenting with ways to formalize serendipity (what a contradiction!) at different stages of the research process and thinking about questions like ‘how might we enable serendipity that adds value to a research project?’. In a post at a later date we will share more about serendipity in analysis.