The Association held its inaugural 'Exploring Qualitative Research Methods in Youth and Community Work' conference at Manchester Metropolitan University on Saturday 16th January, and it was hailed a great success by all who attended. It was perhaps a bold move to run such an event on a Saturday but 50 delegates registered for the day, citing amongst their reasons: the location, price and respected speakers. It is worth noting that the excellent lunch provided might well be a draw for future events held at MMU!
The day was aimed at postgraduate students and early career academics/researchers, offering the opportunity to explore a range of critical qualitative social research methodologies across four themes. The first of these themes was presented by Graham Bright (York St. John University) and Karen McCarthy (MMU) with a focus on Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), exploring the bricolage of narrative and IPA as a method of research and their experience of using this approach. The second theme, Creative Methods: Visual, Poetry and Digital Spaces, was presented by Raj Patel (MMU) and Paul Fenton (Nottingham Trent University). Dr Patel’s fascinating research looked at working poetically with emotion, eliciting narratives from qualitative data, where he shared his doctoral research exploration of race and identity through the use of I-Poems. Then, in an interactive session, Professor Fenton highlighted Sarah Dunlop’s work to present the use of images and photography as a grounded approach to qualitative research.
In perhaps the most cerebral presentation of the day, Dr Ian McGimpsey (Birmingham University) presented a third theme of ‘Assemblage’ as an emerging approach to Practical Ethnography. Through his research into the Youth Service, viewed as an assemblage, he highlighted some advantages and disadvantages of this approach. This seminar had definitely been the hook for me in signing up for the day, since my MA dissertation research, looking at the motivation of a team of Street Pastors, was based on an ethnographic approach. The final theme, facilitated by Janet Batsleer (MMU), included three stimulating presentations focusing on Memory Work, Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) presented by Jane Melvin (University of Brighton) and Collective Biography presented by Christine Smith (University of St. Mark & St. John).
The breadth of innovation and creativity in youth and community work practice is already well-celebrated but it was inspiring to hear from academics seeking new ways of approaching research in the diverse field of youth and community work. During the closing plenary, there was genuine positivity about the event and the chance to meet with others interested in research. The facilitators had been able to create safe spaces where they could share their work while enabling participants to question and explore these approaches. There was general consensus that similar events should happen in the future and a willingness for some more informal conversations and gatherings to develop as a result. Feedback about preferences regarding frequency and days of meetings has been sought by the Association and future developments will be published on the website soon.
Rob Tumilty MA
Deputy Director at Oxford CYM
Copies of presentations and links to presenters can be found by following this link
To find out more about the work of CYM (The Institute for Children, Youth and Mission)
Visit the website at www.cym.ac.uk