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Working with Vulnerable Groups in Research and Practice
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This book examines the nature of participatory research in the social sciences and its role in increasing participation among vulnerable or marginalised populations. Drawing on engaging in-depth case studies, it examines the ways in which inclusion and collaboration in research can be enhanced among vulnerable participants, such as those with profound learning difficulties, victims of abuse and trauma and multiply vulnerable children and young people, and shows how useful it can be with these groups. The book will be an invaluable resource for students, researchers and academics in many countries who want to put participatory research methods into practice.

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Chapter overview This chapter will introduce you to what research is generally, before specifically introducing participatory research to you. The benefits and challenges of participatory research will be outlined with reference to social justice. This chapter will help you to understand and in turn communicate to others why this type of research is so important. Just what is research? We have a very straightforward and broad definition of research – it is any activity that is focused on exploring a question or questions. There are many

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149 SIX Advancing participatory research Issues and challenges in participatory research This chapter draws together some of the key issues to emerge from the previous chapters regarding the advantages and challenges in PR in order to advance participatory methods and approaches. With this advancement in mind, this chapter also considers the need to posit or locate participatory methods more broadly (including PAR, PNR, and so on, with vulnerable or marginalised groups) within a defined Participatory Model (PM). Such a model is constructed and presented

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31 TWO Participatory research with children and young people Recognising and including children and young people in research, policy and practice In her work on children’s roles and representation in social research in the mid-1990s, Alderson (1995, p 40) claimed that the views of children and young people had been generally overlooked in research studies. She described the ‘adult-centred’ nature of research until that time, which was ‘conducted about the public world of the environment, politics, economics and other social affairs with little reference to

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121 FIVE Participatory research: interpretation, representation and transformation Introduction Writing is an everyday communicative practice, which pervades our lives at an individual as well a societal level. Given the omnipresence of the written word, research into the role of written language in everyday communication is at the heart of understanding contemporary forms of social interaction, between institutions and communities as well as between individuals. (Barton and Papen, 2010, p 3) From the perspective of contemporary anthropology, authors such

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Avoiding both over-simplification and jargon-riddled complexity, this book is an invaluable, straightforward guide to participatory research for you and your fellow practitioners working with community groups and organisations.

The book offers a blueprint for your research project, taking you through each stage of the process, from planning your project to disseminating your findings. Keeping in mind imperatives such as engagement, involvement and voice, the book explores how best to conduct your research in ways which are meaningful for the participants.

The book includes valuable resources such as reflection points, chapter summaries and further reading lists. It will encourage and empower practitioners to plan and execute participatory research projects with confidence.

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65 THREE Involving people with learning difficulties in participatory research Introduction Since the 1970s, disability research (as well as policy and practice) has been influenced by important theoretical and empirical advances in perspectives on, and understandings of, disability, evidenced specifically in the emergence of the social model of disability. This model proposes that disability is not a biological or medical human ‘deficiency’, but is influenced and shaped by social, political and economic factors, and is maintained through structural or

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91 FOUR Participatory research with victims of abuse and trauma: women victims-survivors of domestic violence Introduction With respect to this expansive vision of what is achievable in PR with vulnerable or marginalised groups, and especially those who may be defined as multiply vulnerable, this chapter focuses on participatory approaches with victims of abuse and trauma with a particular focus on women victims-survivors of domestic violence. This chapter also considers some of the important reasons why participants such as these require research

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85 FIVE Methodologically sound? Participatory research at a community radio station Catherine Wilkinson Introduction This chapter is based on a research project that used the case study of KCC Live, a volunteer youth-led community radio station situated in Knowsley, neighbouring Liverpool, UK. The station typically has a 14–25 year old volunteer base, although at the time of conducting this research all volunteers were over the age of 16, and there were a number of volunteers over the age of 25. I conducted this research using a mixed methods approach

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shut down. Mess is also fairly inevitable in the kind of research you are doing – participatory research. A wonderful colleague, Tina Cook, put it like this: Engaging in action research, research that can disturb both individual and communally held notions of knowledge for practice, will be messy. Investigations into the ‘messy area’, the interface between the known and the nearly known, between knowledge-in-use and tacit knowledge as yet to be useful, reveal the ‘messy area’ as a vital element for seeing, disrupting, analysing, learning, knowing and changing. It

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