Session: Violence Against Women and Children: A Critical Reflection on Methodological Challenges of Conducting Field Research in Global Settings (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

09 Violence Against Women and Children: A Critical Reflection on Methodological Challenges of Conducting Field Research in Global Settings

Thursday, January 17, 2019: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Golden Gate 4, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Violence against Women and Children (VAWC)
Saltanat Childress, PhD, Arizona State University, Jill Messing, MSW, PhD, Arizona State University, Tina Jiwatram-Negron, PhD, Arizona State University, Bushra Sabri, PhD, MSW, The Johns Hopkins University and Manisha Joshi, PhD, University of South Florida
Reflexivity in qualitative research is "a conscious experiencing of the self as both inquirer and respondent... as the one coming to know the self within the processes of research itself" (Lincoln, Lynham, & Guba, 2011, p. 124). The concept of "professional reflexivity" (Haverkamp, 2005) has become increasingly significant in social work practice, education, and research because of the critical role researchers play as "human instruments" (Guba & Lincoln, 1981) in the process and outcomes of research, both in terms of ensuring rigor and trustworthiness, and also managing ethical, interpersonal, and fiduciary relationships with respondents. While much has been written about the central role of reflexivity in qualitative research, there is a dearth of literature in social work that explicitly addresses techniques and approaches researchers use to incorporate reflexivity when conducting research concerning violence against women in international settings. In particular, there has been lack of literature guiding researchers through different stages of the research process in a systematic way, including incorporating reflexivity into research design, data collection and analysis, and final write-up. This workshop addresses this gap. It explores reflexive strategies and mechanisms violence against women researchers use to carry out their reflexive practices in different global settings and the reasons for using these techniques, to what extent to employ them, and when it is appropriate to make use of these techniques to contribute to the trustworthiness and rigor of a study.

The purpose of this workshop is to address methodological issues in conducting violence research in different contexts with different populations experiencing violence and trauma, including adult women survivors of abuse, teen pregnant mothers involved in child welfare system, sex workers involved in substance use, male truckers, and immigrant or resettlement refugees.

The researchers will address five different types and strategies for reflexivity:

1) Awareness of the researcher's response to the immediate context (e.g., negotiating the role of the researcher as an outsider and insider);

2) Sensitivity to how power relations affect the generation of knowledge (e.g., ethical dilemmas in the field, researchers' biases and responsibilities in representing participants' stories, and ensuring joint ownership and non-hierarchical processes and outcomes for research);

3) Acknowledgement of the role of emotions (emotional connectivity with the participants, dealing with vicarious trauma and isolation through peer-debriefing and reflexive journaling mechanisms);

4) Implications of different methodological approaches (e.g., grounded theory, phenomenology, and case study) on the analytical choices and tools used in forming research questions, gaining access to the population and securing consent; and

5) The nuts-and-bolts of arranging overseas research, including securing funding, making overseas contacts, managing empirical materials, and negotiating with the Education and Social/Behavioral Science Institutional Review Board (IRB) to conduct human subjects research.

By comparing and synthesizing the contributions of these reflexive approaches and practices, the panel will explore challenges in conducting violence research in different societal contexts among different vulnerable populations, and illuminate their practical relevance for social work theory, practice, and research.

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