You are here

  1. Home
  2. Research
  3. Projects
  4. Bodylore


Human beings are natural storytellers. But what role do these shared narratives – stories collected from friends, folklore, and first hand experience – have in shaping the complicated decisions we make around contraception?

Reproductive Bodylore: the role of vernacular knowledge in contraceptive decision-making is a qualitative interdisciplinary study which straddles folklore and health. The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and explored the role of vernacular knowledge in contraceptive decision-making through participatory research with volunteer researchers. The OU team worked in partnership with Public Health England and The Folklore Society.

The project culminated in a 6-day public engagement exhibition: Bodylore: The Role of shared stories in making contraceptive choices. The exhibition examined the stories people tell each other about contraception and the reproductive body and the active role these play in decision making. Over 6 days, 1,360 people explored the exhibition.

We have used the findings of the project to influence the priorities of practice-based organisations, ensuring that vernacular contraceptive knowledge and the role it plays in decision-making is on the policy and practice agenda.

Our key impact pathways:

  • Bodylore exhibition: Societal impact and awareness raising through engagement with the general public(s).
  • Practice-based: working with key partner organisations in sexual and reproductive health to ensure vernacular contraceptive knowledge is sensitively addressed in consultations.
  • Participatory research: engaging volunteer researchers and providing them with research skills and experience
  • Working in partnership with a learned society:to challenge assumptions of what folklore is, and how it is done, and applying folklore inspired research in clinical practice.

Watch the video below to find out more about the research


Project Team

Principal Investigator: Dr Victoria Newton

Co- Investigator: Professor Lesley Hoggart

Research Associate: Dr Mari Greenfield



Funded by AHRC Grant number: AH/S011587/1

Led by The Open University with Project Partners: The Folklore Society and Public Health England.

Thank you to all volunteer researchers and their interviewees without whom the project would not have been a success. Thanks also to expert advisory group members. Exhibition design and build provided by The Liminal Space.

Contact us

For more information or queries please contact us via email at the address below