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True Stories: Research as Praxis Deborah Warr Centre for Health & Society University of Melbourne.

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Presentation on theme: "True Stories: Research as Praxis Deborah Warr Centre for Health & Society University of Melbourne."— Presentation transcript:

1 True Stories: Research as Praxis Deborah Warr Centre for Health & Society University of Melbourne

2 Structure for the presentation: Defining research as praxis Describing the example of a research project Developing the project –Engaging people in the process of research Collecting the data –imagining how the world appears in anothers eyes Disseminating the findings –To ensure that the research makes a difference

3 (Social science) research as praxis: Praxis – a Action, praxis; spec the practice of a technical subject or art, as opp. to or arising out of the theory of it. b Habitual action, accepted practice, custom. – i) The art and craft of research practice (skilful, technical, creative) – ii) Research that is concerned to understand the meaningfulness of everyday practice – iii) Orientated to action

4 Eg.- Exploring social capital in contexts of socio-economic disadvantage Funded by the NHMRC to explore Social contexts for health in disadvantaged communities Concepts of social capital and social network analysis were used to frame the research and interpret findings Studies undertaken in two clusters of neighbourhoods: Corio/Norlane/Rosewall; Broadmeadows/Westmeadows/Dallas Produced a Report for the Community summarising key findings from the C/N/R site: Theres good and bad everywhere you go: exploring local contexts for social capital Report disseminated in worker network meetings, to residents and outside the neighbourhoods (Local gov. state gov, policy bodies)

5 Engaging communities in the processes of research: First things first: consulting with service providers/stakeholders This is a place where people stay in their houses Communities often not interested in research – cant see the value – want to see more action/less talk Need to give something back- demonstrate the value of research Residents have opportunity to explain aspects of their everyday life – positive and negative

6 Key issues that emerged: Residents related important positive aspects of the neighbourhood Dense local social networks that circulated important forms of social support (bonding) Experienced stigmatisation of the neighbourhood participants highly involved in intra-neighbourhood networks few participants involved in extra- neighbourhood networks (bridging) High levels of social isolation within the neighbourhood– keeping to yourself was a strategy for managing difficulties in the NB


8 Collecting research data: Exploring culture in social science is like using a map to navigate unfamiliar territory- the difference between abstract depiction and the practical space of journeys actually made (Bourdieu, 1977) Embodying and situating oneself in research settings Collaborative research design (eg. peer interviews, critical reference groups, working parties)

9 Analysing research: talking behind peoples back Analysis and interpretation of research is inevitably fraught with the danger of misunderstanding the meaning of peoples words Difficulties of recognising individual experiences when they are collectivised Research should be objectively subjective –Insights derived through systematic methods –Linked to other empirical work –Embedded in theoretical understanding –Verified through different kinds of evidence - Validating findings through discussions/presentations

10 Eg. Interpreting and responding to issue of neighbourhood stigma Key finding from the research (I wasnt expecting this issue to arise as frequently as it did in residents accounts) Controversial finding Wasnt reflected in everyones experiences Some people felt that I was stigmatising the neighbourhood by talking about it (which is a real risk) Raised questions of how to talk about the research findings without making things worse- research findings also stigmatise neighbourhoods (even if this isnt the intention)

11 Theoretical insights: It matters little that the discourses of demonisation that have mushroomed about them [poor neighbourhoods] often have only tenuous connections to the reality of everyday life in them. A pervading territorial stigma is firmly affixed upon the residents of such neighbourhoods of socioeconomic exile that adds its burden to the disrepute of poverty and resurging prejudice against ethnic minorities and immigrants (Wacquant, 1996:1644).

12 Bottom of the class The news that Prince William has been dressing up as a member of the working class shouldn't surprise us, says John Harris. From sneering comedy shows to elitist politics, class snobbery is alive and well (Feature article in The Guardian on the chav phenomenon in the UK,11/4/2006)

13 Disseminating the findings: (Where appropriate) participants need accessible summaries of research findings Receiving more emphasis in funding applications Facilitates the translation of research into effective policy and practice Dissemination activities useful for validating findings Also up to researchers to argue for and deliver evidence that demonstrates the value of dissemination


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