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Title: Working at the margins of abstraction : understanding child neglect in general practice : a mixed methods study
Author: Mullin, Anne
Awarding Body: University of Strathclyde
Current Institution: University of Strathclyde
Date of Award: 2012
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Child neglect as a form of child maltreatment has no standard definition nor is it associated with any particular research methodology. This study explores the impact of understanding child neglect in general practice with an initial study aim to address a research gap, that is, knowledge of a subject that is not formally taught and given scant attention in contemporary general practice. In doing so I looked beyond the boundaries of the profession and the immediate reception of constituted knowledge towards child neglect's social context and its historical aspects. Reading around the texts of child neglect, the research direction began to embrace the principles of a mixed methodology. This enabled an exploration of child neglect meaning from a number of perspectives in order to build a bigger picture of this complex abstract entity. Mixed methods research has been increasingly used in health but is infrequently employed in the context of general practice. A dialectic stance within m ixed methods in this study was developed as the positivist findings of a structured questionnaire were integrated with strongly interpretive in depth interviews with GPs, focus group work and historical textual analysis inspired by a Habermasian framework. Habermas's treatise of communicative action and knowledge interests provide the philosophical background to justify the methodology employed within this thesis. As a real world evaluation of an abstract concept this study addresses three research questions regarding mechanisms of knowledge acquisition, consensus and disagreement of child neglect in general practice and its situated meaning within its socio-historical context and relevance to contemporary general practice. All are considered within a mixed methodology that is generative of unique findings over and above single methods in a "spiralling manner" (Greene, 2008) which would not have been possible with single methods alone. This creates new and synergis within the methodology through conceptualisation, data integration and research dialogue, but is dependent on simultaneous processes of "methodological" and "conceptual integration" (Day, Sammons & Gu, 2008). Findings suggest that looking beyond the limits of normative assumptions of child neglect meaning is vital if we are to move forward in a holistic approach to ameliorate the effects of neglect and the practical requirements of accomplishing such a task. This is a suitable theoretical concern where child neglect appears to be discursively constructed today as stable ideological notions that are paralleled in historical texts of child neglect. This represents a process where neglected children have been regarded as a separate class who are consistently viewed through the lens of poverty and parental addictions. These continue to shape society's understanding of it today, because there remain unresolved tensions in the explanation of child neglect to establishing its multifaceted dime nsions alongside a simultaneous reduction of meaning. Parton (2009) describes this dilemma as the "social" being "overshadowed" by the requirements of an increasingly technological "informational" child protection system. However, the research conclusions are drawn from a single study of one real-world evaluation of a complex phenomenon, but its findings of convergence and divergence within the discipline of mixed methods would suggest that more scholarship is required to explore the issues raised within this thesis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available