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Using photography to understand change and continuity in the history of residential care for older people

Rolph, Sheena; Johnson, Julia and Smith, Randall (2009). Using photography to understand change and continuity in the history of residential care for older people. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 12(5) pp. 421–439.

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The Last Refuge by Peter Townsend is a seminal study of residential care for older people. The fieldwork was carried out in the late 1950s and the data are now deposited in the National Social Policy and Social Change Archive at the University of Essex. We have undertaken research, funded by the ESRC, which has revisited Townsend's work and some of the homes he studied in order to conduct an overtime comparison. In this paper we focus on Townsend's use of photography and our subsequent use of photography in our revisiting study. We argue that although Townsend did not analyse his photographs, they were significant data for use in his arguments critiquing residential care. They were, however, the product of a different socio‐historical context to our own and as such posed considerable practical and ethical challenges for us when attempting to use this aspect of his methodology for an overtime comparison. We argue that despite the resulting constraints, photography was an important part of our methodology, enabling comparisons and illuminating historical patterns in residential care for older people.

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2009 Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1464-5300
Keywords: visual methods; photography; residential care; older people; Peter Townsend; secondary data analysis; research ethics.
Academic Unit/Department: Health and Social Care
Item ID: 11943
Depositing User: Julia Johnson
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2011 10:19
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2016 13:24
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