Deborah Lynch, Catherine Forde & Mary Hurley Methodologies for a new era? Potential of research to be ‘transformative’ and linked to ‘shared goal’ of social change Mutual interest in exploring the work of Donna Mertens – her ‘transformative paradigm’ (2009) Links to our research The contribution that social workers make to communities is integral to the principles and values of the profession but is often ‘hidden’ and unacknowledged An exploration of social workers’ engagement with collective approaches to practice Qualitative interviews with practitioners in statutory, voluntary and community contexts Broad range of community-based collective activities in diverse practice contexts Access to communities that ‘are pushed to societies margins’ (Mertens, 2009, p. 48) Specialist practice knowledge to inform research responses Critical practice (Ife, 1998) – social workers as ‘change agents’ Partnerships, alliances, practice networks, affiliations Practice skills such as: assessing needs and resources; analysing problems and goals; participation and membership, developing a framework or model for change; writing grant applications; cultural competence… ‘toolkit’ (Mertens, 2009) Building a research culture within the social work profession through linking social inquiry to social action Research and evaluation research to critique and refine policy to advocate actions that support changes in policy Overview Participation and action Critical reflection – ‘insider’ Researcher/Activist Donna Mertens – focus of work ‘transformative mixed method inquiry in diverse communities that prioritises ethical implications of research in pursuit of social justice’ (p.401) Researchers with the goal of social change – ‘what kind of power does participation in my study give and to whom?’ Examples of where participation does not imbue political power – shifting responsibility for change on those who have little political power. ‘If we ground research and evaluation in assumptions (see later slide) that prioritise the furtherance of social justice and human rights, then we will utilise community involvement and research methodologies that will lead to a greater realisation of social change’ (Mertens, 2009, p.3) Underlying assumptions that rely on ethical stances of inclusion and challenging oppressive social structures An entry process into the community that is designed to build trust and make goals and strategies transparent Dissemination of findings in ways that encourage use of the results to enhance social justice and human rights (Mertens, 2009, p. 5) Transformational action research ‘generates knowledge claims for the expressed purpose of taking action to promote social analysis and democratic social change’ (Greenwood & Levine, 2007, p.5 cited in Mertens, 2009) Emancipatory action research focuses on institutional factors that impede change in a practice context (Humphries, 2008) Donna Mertens moved from the emancipatory paradigm to transformative to emphasise ‘agency’ (2009, p.2). Authenticity Positionality Community Attention to voice Critical Reflexivity Reciprocity Sharing the benefits of privilege Places central importance on the lives and experiences of communities that are pushed to society’s margins Analyses power relationships Links results of social inquiry to action Uses transformative theory to develop inquiry approach (Mertens, 2009, p. 48) Axiology Respect, beneficence, justice Ontology Unequal distribution of power; accounts of the powerful most likely to be accepted Epistemology ‘Interactive and empowering’ research relationship; collaboration, understanding and building of trust important Methodology Qualitative dimension; partnership between researchers and community; Participants’ voice valued. Qualitative methods (dialogical) critical Quantitative and mixed methods Interactive link between researcher and participants in defining focus and questions Methods to accommodate cultural complexity Contextual and historic factors – as related to discrimination and oppression Observation Document and Artifact Review Personal Reflections Interviews Focus groups Gender Analysis Community-based data collection Visual Data – photographs, video, web Ranking/Trend Analysis/Forms of Mapping Social Network Analysis Surveys – including computer- based surveying (double-edged sword?) What could be some of the challenges using the transformative paradigm as a researcher in your work context? Choose a data collection method that interests the group and discuss its potential for use in your work setting. Bradbury, H. and Reason, P. (2003) ‘Action Research: An Opportunity for Revitalizing Research Purpose and Practices’, Qualitative Social Work, 46(1): 144-146. Holmquist, C. and Sundin, E. (2010) ‘The Suicide of the Social Sciences: Causes and Effects’, The European Journal of Social Science Research, 23 (1): 13-23. Humphries, B. (2008) Social Work Research for Social Justice, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Ife, J. (1997) Rethinking Social Work: Towards Critical Practice, Melbourne: Longman. Lincoln, Y.S (1995) Standards for Qualitatitive Research, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco. Mertens, D. (2007) ‘Transformative Paradigm: Mixed Methods and Social Justice’, Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1 (3): 212-225. Mertens, D. M. (2009) Transformative Research and Evaluation, New York: The Guilford Press.