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Title: Exploring the experiences of vulnerable families : a critical reflection on the participatory research approach
Author: Herod, Kate
ISNI:       0000 0004 5353 5439
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis documents research undertaken to understand the experience of families who have lived with domestic violence, substance misuse and subsequent child protection intervention. Initially a participatory methodology was adopted, which presented significant challenges. This thesis presents a critical reflection of using the participatory methodology with vulnerable and stigmatized families and the divergence that this research experienced from participatory ideals when operationalized in a real-world setting. A range of methods have been employed to capture these experiences through a series of ‘polyvocal’ stories that not only provide authentic research findings, but also gave participants the chance to speak collectively about issues that concern them. This is an opportunity rarely afforded to families involved in child protection. Specific issues raised include the difficulty of inhabiting dual status as victim or perpetrator of domestic violence and a parent, the complexity of assessing structural injustice as opposed to agency responsibility when researching traumatic events and how services responses of ‘kinship care’ arrangements have substantial flaws. The study also generated new insight into the experiences of men as fathers and how ‘risk’ is assumed to be cross-contextual. No easy solutions are proposed, but the participatory principles employed demonstrate the need to embrace a high level of reflexivity to address the challenges of power sharing with vulnerable people. The identity barriers to transformational relationships of families involved in child protection services also need to be reviewed. Only then will safe and ethical research and social work practice become possible.
Supervisor: Greenop, Darren; Leavey, Conan Sponsor: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: domestic violence; substance misuse; parenting; participatory research