Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Why Qualitative? The Power of Stories

I had a pretty moving day today supervising clinicians who work with clients with developmental disabilities..they presented a young woman with mild intellectual delay, schizophrenia and visual impairment who was de-institutionalised 10 years ago or so....she was living in a Housing Commission Unit on her own, exploited, beaten up, abused sexually by others and the system was failing to respond adequately to her needs....the conclusion we came to was that the only thing that would move people to work with her properly, in a united fashion, was her own story, one of despair, but also one that demonstrated her need for belonging, safety and respect..that effort needed to be taken to compile, it, write it, research it with her so that it could be used to put some humanity back into her care....

This experience got me thinking about research and how powerful Narratives can be....this is at the heart of Narrative Inquiry as a research technique, and also at the heart of Narrative Therapy, Michael White and David Epston's approach......

see this paper

Django (2011)

Abstract:In this article, I conceptualize ethnographic, qualitative, and social language research with marginalized and oppressed communities as "humanizing research". Humanizing research is a methodological stance, which requires that our inquiries involve dialogic consciousness-raising and the building of relationships of dignity and care for both researchers and participants. I offer evidence that such humanization is not only ethically necessary but also increases the validity of the truths we gain through research. Working from a 2006-2007 study of language, literacy, and difference in a multiethnic high school and youth community, I provide examples from fieldwork that led to research that attempted to humanize rather than colonize the youth I worked with. I draw on the work of others to extend a long line of methodological thinking in pursuit of representation and humanization in interpretive studies in schools and communities. (Contains 8 notes.)

It also made me think about my own story, how my journey to becoming a researcher has been one that has come from the hardship and turmoil involved in being a therapist for a living and how grateful i am that I have been able to still contribute without continuing to sacrifice my own well-being......being a therapist was a calling at one point in my life, one that had it's cost...s but now i have found something new and i want to try and make this meaningful as well....

It seems to me that one of the contributions of qualitative research is that it aims to humanise the research endeavor, regardless of which method you chose to use....to make sure that the person isn't forgotten and that their own story is priveleged and considered to be knowledge worth seeking and archiving...

Lets make sure we continue to do this.

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