3 – Vulnerabilities & Risks

The third seminar of the series, Vulnerabilities and Risks, was held on 16 July 2014. Follow the link on the right to watch a recording of the session. Below are details of the speakers and their abstracts.

1pm – Introduction with Bridgette Wessels and Natcen

1.10pm – Harriet Churchill, Lecturer in Social Work, University of Sheffield

Title: Researching family interventions: Methodological reflections on the family case study approach

Abstract: Intensive and integrated approaches to ‘whole family’ interventions and family support services have been an area of increasing policy interest and service expansion in the UK and beyond. Although provision can vary in respect of its scope, key features, target groups and programme aims – intensive and integrated family services often provide relatively extensive and tailored support to families with multiple adversities and problems. The intensive and multi-agency package of support seeks to simultaneously address child, youth, adult and family issues, needs and problems. In addition there tends to be a significant role for lead professionals or family key workers in the process of needs assessment and support planning as well as service coordination, case management and direct work.

Methodologically, however, there are many challenges to researching and evaluating intensive and multi-agency family services. This presentation will consider many of these and, drawing on a study of an ‘edge of care’ intensive family support services, critically review the strengths, limitations and challenges of the family case study methodology. It will highlight several strengths to the qualitative-led mixed method family case study approach developed in the study and illustrate how this approach was suitable for addressing intensive research questions about frontline practice and service user experiences, engagement and ‘impacts’. However, it will also identify limitations and challenges to accessing, collecting and analysing the data as well as identify research questions that require alternative methodologies.

1.35pm – Yudi Herrera, Associated Researcher, Universidad de La Serena, Chile

Title: Rhetorical strategies in oral identity narratives of women victims of forced displacement in Colombia

Abstract: We used the perspective of the narrative construction of identity in order to account for linguistic and especially rhetorical resources used to configure the identity discourse of oral narratives of women victims of political forced displacement in Colombia. We have employed a descriptive qualitative method based in studies in social psychology developed by Potter (2006). We focus on how narrators articulate the construction of corroboration strategy as a part of a macro rhetoric communicative goal, which consists of providing more credibility and verisimilitude to the narrative. Narrative types most used by displaced women have a rhetorical purpose, reason why they used exemplum and anecdotes as suitable narrative formats because the main aims of the speaker, in the conversational flow, are to generate a moral reflection, to realize the identity positioning of speakers in the context of the interview and thus, to promote the alignment of the auditorium. The data for the article come from narratives told during sociolinguistic interviews by 17 displaced women who arrived to Bogotá in 2007.

2.05pm – Jenny McNeill, Research Associate, University of Sheffield

Title: Tracking change in the lives of vulnerable groups: Reflections of doing Qualitative Longitudinal Research (QLR)

Abstract: This paper will explore the challenges in carrying out qualitative longitudinal research (QLR) with marginalised and vulnerable groups. It draws on personal reflections from my own research which employed a QLR design to investigate the role of employability in the resettlement of single homeless people. These reflections will help inform plans to carry out longitudinal research with welfare service users (including disabled people, lone parents, migrants, offenders and homeless people) in my new role as a Research Associate examining the efficacy and ethicality of welfare conditionality. The discussion will look at the lessons I have learned as a researcher, including what went well and not so well when incorporating a QLR design and how these skills and knowledge may be further developed in the research project exploring welfare conditionality.

The paper will concentrate on important ethical and methodological issues that arose during the research process and thoughts on dealing with these for the welfare conditionality project. In particular the discussion will share my experiences and ideas on gate-keeping, power dimensions in interviewing, relationships with participants, ways of minimising attrition, considerations of safety and safe-guarding in fieldwork settings, and using appropriate language in research with vulnerable groups. Both opportunities and challenges in 21st century forms of communication will be briefly considered, namely, the use of social media in retaining contact with participants in QLR.

2.35pm – Dan Goodley, Professor of Disability Studies and Education, University of Sheffield

Title: Disability studies: Posthuman methodologies

Abstract: This paper explores the human through disability studies and the theories of Rosi Braidotti. We ask; what does it mean to be human in the 21st Century and in what ways does disability enhance these meanings? In addressing this question we seek to work through entangled connections of nature, society, technology, medicine, biopower and culture to consider the extent to which the human might be an outdated phenomenon, replaced by Braidotti’s posthuman condition. We then introduce disability as a political category, an identity and a moment of relational ethics. Disability studies, we argue, are perfectly at ease with the posthuman because disability has always asked for more than that which is given by the traditional classical human. From this we examine the ways in which disability and posthuman work together, enhancing and complicating one another in ways that raise important questions about the kinds of life and death we value. We consider one of Braidotti’s themes in relation to disability: I. Life beyond the self: Rethinking enhancement. Finally, we explore the methodological challenges and opportunities provided by rolling with this posthuman theme.

2.55pm – Final comments with Bridgette Wessels (Chair)


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