A note on 'image' methodology for social work qualitative research: socially inclusive reserach methods for service users

Matthews, Sarah (2011). A note on 'image' methodology for social work qualitative research: socially inclusive reserach methods for service users. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 15(3) pp. 119–127.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1921/095352211X656645

Abstract

Abstract: This note offers an analysis of the issues of the social contextual impact of research methodology. Here the author discusses the potential of using ‘image based’ data collection and analysis methods in social work research and in particular focuses on one possible method, ‘rich pictures’. Interest in the use of using image based methods is growing. The author considers the literature which underpins this approach, focussing on the challenges this might bring at all stages of the research process and offers a critique of the ethical and practical dilemmas involved. It will be suggested that such methods have the potential to shift the often criticised power imbalance in all research, including social work research. The author will discuss if this supplementary methodology might increase the ability of service users to participate in research. In this respect, it empathizes with service users who might prefer a non-verbal approach to research inquiry, with more of a range of responsiveness to researchers’ question. This note will argue for moving beyond only words in open-ended interviews by social workers to further explore the experiences of service users. As such its use may also be more in accord with the social work values of social justice

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