ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

Font Size:  Small  Medium  Large

Re-visioning qualitative research methods to illuminate young lives.

Rosemary Mann, Deborah Warr

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 9 - Law Building, Room 102
Date: 2012-07-12 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-19


It is often said that a critical marker of social research is that it is based on methods of data generation that are flexible and sensitive to the social contexts in which data is produced. Yet many studies of social worlds remain firmly attached to surveys and interviews as the standard research implements employed. Increasingly, as the limits of these approaches are recognised, qualitative methods are being re-visioned to understand complexity, detail and context. There is a turn to qualitative methods that illuminate the local in close detail to reveal how people go about their daily lives and what they have to say about their place in the world. Visual methodologies are increasingly being embraced to give ‘voice’ to experience.

This presentation discusses a study that examines young people’s abilities and opportunities to negotiate ‘pathways’ from schooling to training and employment through the experiences and perceptions of young people living in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage in Melbourne. From the disappointment of initial survey and interview approaches, it traces the development of alternate and innovative research methods, including both participant- and researcher-generated photographic and arts based techniques, to draw biographies of young people’s lives and ‘pathways’. It also illuminates the ethical and analytical challenges encountered along the way.