Reviews

Researching the Vulnerable

This book is refreshing, both as an addition to the general research literature and as a text that considers cultural and social issues in studies relating to improving the situation of vulnerable people – a group that forms such an important focus of a great deal of health and social research.

The book uses feminist and postmodern frameworks, but does so in a way that while scholarly, is also accessible. The preface and the section entitled ‘Childhood memory’ are graphic and moving, and set the scene extremely well, indicating the author’s motivation for developing the manuscript. The first chapter provides a description of what constitutes “the sensitive researcher” in such a framework. There is then a very appropriate chapter on moral and ethical issues, which are particularly at the heart of research with vulnerable people.

It moves on to some practical and methodological issues to do with access, building trust, reciprocity, incentive and compensation. The author then turns her attention to the vulnerability of the researcher and again provides theoretical and practical insights.

The following chapter addresses the subject of appropriate methods of data collection, primarily interviewing styles and collaborative techniques, followed by a consideration of writing approaches.

Some of this

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The book uses feminist and postmodern frameworks, but does so in a way that while scholarly, is also accessible. The preface and the section entitled ‘Childhood memory’ are graphic and moving, and set the scene extremely well, indicating the author’s motivation for developing the manuscript. The first chapter provides a description of what constitutes “the sensitive researcher” in such a framework. There is then a very appropriate chapter on moral and ethical issues, which are particularly at the heart of research with vulnerable people.

It moves on to some practical and methodological issues to do with access, building trust, reciprocity, incentive and compensation. The author then turns her attention to the vulnerability of the researcher and again provides theoretical and practical insights.

The following chapter addresses the subject of appropriate methods of data collection, primarily interviewing styles and collaborative techniques, followed by a consideration of writing approaches.

Some of this material, especially on methodological issues, is available elsewhere, but I have never seen all of these facets brought together in quite this way, drawing as the book does on theory and practice, and providing examples from around the world. It will be applicable to very many healthcare, social and educational research settings across different nations and cultures. As such, this book will be a helpful, accessible and interesting resource for novice and experienced researchers alike in a number of fields.

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