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Researching Intimacy in Families: A Qualitative Mixed Methods Approach Dr Jacqui Gabb The Open University is incorporated by Royal.

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Presentation on theme: "Researching Intimacy in Families: A Qualitative Mixed Methods Approach Dr Jacqui Gabb The Open University is incorporated by Royal."— Presentation transcript:

1 Researching Intimacy in Families: A Qualitative Mixed Methods Approach Dr Jacqui Gabb The Open University is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC ), an exempt charity in England & Wales and a charity registered in Scotland (SC ).

2 ‘Researching Families’ project Behind Closed Doors (RES )

3 Aims of paper Introduce the different qualitative methods used in the Behind Closed Doors project Demonstrate how mixing methods can produce a dynamic portrait of intimate experience Highlight why we should embrace the conceptual and methodological messiness in studies of family lives

4 Qualitative methods Emotion maps Diaries Semi-structured interviews Observations Biographical narrative interviews Vignettes Photo elicitation Focus/group interviews

5 Analysing mixed methods material Inconsistencies, ambiguities and complimentarity were interwoven to broaden understanding of relational life Themes and methods were mapped diagrammatically, per individual, per family, per method in a series of grids Vertical threads of a story were traced through case study analysis; cross-sectional analysis followed horizontal social– personal connections

6 Claire: A mixed methods portrait Claire is 43 years old lesbian single parent. She has three sons aged 21, 19 and 17 who were conceived in a previous heterosexual relationship. She is in full-time employment in a professional job and lives in a comfortable semi-detached suburban home. She is in a LAT relationship with Jade (48), who lives nearby.

7 Diary extract The significance in all of this is that I feel Jake [son, aged 21] enjoys chatting with me [...] The other significant point is that during our chat—his dad called him on his mobile phone [...] he ended the conversation with ‘Love you too’. I find it so interesting that my ex husband can still maintain such intimacy with his sons (our sons) being that their ages are 17, 19 and 21. I like it—but whether it’s because I don’t often talk on the phone to the boys that this doesn’t happen—I don’t know. Maybe it’s a problem I need to deal with for myself. My boys know very well how much I love them and the words ‘I love you’ were said so often and so easily when they were younger.

8 Emotion Map

9 Photo elicitation Claire: Yeah. Mmm quite typical I think isn’t it (laughs) yeah… Sleeping quite happily, yeah nothing wrong with that, I would have thought [...] My cat used to sleep on my bed and yeah. I’m probably a little bit relaxed about things like that and a lot of people are more strict, they don’t want pets in the bedroom but I’m not like that really so no, no problem for me. And the boys have on occasion, on regular occasions, come into [my] bed, up until, the last time I remember was when [son] was about 13 and he’d had a really bad dream so mmmm.

10 Vignettes Claire: Oh this is exactly what’s going on with my friend [...] at the moment [...]. It was, a developing friendship and they had like minds, they worked on the same thing together and they were very passionate about it so, yeah there was a guilt feeling there because [husband] obviously couldn’t fill that for [her] [...]...Same sex relationships are more difficult in that respect because it’s difficult for me to have friends, female friends over [... it’s] very difficult because there’s a, there’s a boundary there, but for some of them... for others its fine, if the boundary is set, but for others it isn’t and it’s difficult for Jade...

11 Biographical narrative interview Claire: probably during a car drive somewhere, we [Claire and ‘the boys’] have had little discussions and it’s been touched upon, “Why doesn’t Jade move in?” and, and things like that. And I said because I preferred the separation [...] I think the boys are probably happier. They would have accepted it, but I know that they, they feel more comfortable that this is their home [...] we were a nice little family unit for a couple of years while the children…. [were young]. It, it was a nice time for all of us. There was no bad feeling anywhere it was just nice, comfortable, content, but it couldn’t last, it really couldn’t.

12 Silences and Defensive Strategies Interviewer: Is there anything else you’d like to say? Claire: I can’t think of anything significant really at the moment, I’ve told you most of it.

13 Accounting for Relational Messiness A qualitative mixed methods approach is valuable because it evinces the messiness of emotions The multidimensional picture illustrates the complexity of family lives Meanings remain provisional and insecure

14 Further reading Gabb J. (2009) 'Researching Family Relationships: A Qualitative Mixed Methods Approach', Methodological Innovations Online: Vol 4(2): pp /4.%20Gabb%20- %20final%20August%209%2009.pdf 09/4.%20Gabb%20- %20final%20August%209%2009.pdf Gabb J. (2010) Researching Intimacy in Families. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

15 Dr Jacqui Gabb The Open University Dept of Social Policy and Criminology Gardiner Building Walton Hall Milton Keynes MK7 6AA


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