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Power in research relationships: engaging mothers with learning difficulties in a parenting programme evaluation

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Power in research relationships : engaging mothers with learning difficulties in a parenting programme evaluation. / Tarleton, Beth; Heslop, Pauline.

In: Qualitative Social Work, 05.08.2019, p. 1-17.

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@article{2ccdfecdd0a049619e0a660f9ac8ca3a,
title = "Power in research relationships: engaging mothers with learning difficulties in a parenting programme evaluation",
abstract = "There are significant ethical considerations when engaging with the participants of a service evaluation study. These include the potential impact of the findings of the evaluation on the lives of those in receipt of the service. The importance of researcher reflexivity in these circumstances is vital. This paper describes one researcher’s reflections about their own engagement with participants of an evaluation of a parenting course. The potential contributors to the evaluation of the course that are the focus of this paper were 18 mothers with learning difficulties. All had been referred to the course because of concerns about their parenting capacity or the welfare of their child.The power dynamics in the interactions between the researcher and the participants existed on a number of levels. The starting point was an asymmetrical power relation with the researcher defining the scope, content and conduct of the evaluation. Efforts to engage with the participants included trying to remodel some of this power and minimise the distance and separateness between each party. The parents too had some power, by using the interviews as a therapeutic space, providing socially desirable accounts, or ultimately jeopardising the evaluation of the programme by refusing to participate. In this unique context, the power relationships were dynamic and inter-linked, feeling like a dance between active agents within the negotiations. Elements of Tew’s (2006) conceptual framework of ‘productive’ and ‘limiting’ modes of power were both in evidence and likely to have influenced the findings of the evaluation.",
keywords = "Research engagement, power, research reflexivity, Parents with learning difficulties",
author = "Beth Tarleton and Pauline Heslop",
year = "2019",
month = "8",
day = "5",
doi = "10.1177/1473325019867379",
language = "English",
pages = "1--17",
journal = "Qualitative Social Work",
issn = "1473-3250",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",

}

RIS - suitable for import to EndNote

TY - JOUR

T1 - Power in research relationships

T2 - engaging mothers with learning difficulties in a parenting programme evaluation

AU - Tarleton, Beth

AU - Heslop, Pauline

PY - 2019/8/5

Y1 - 2019/8/5

N2 - There are significant ethical considerations when engaging with the participants of a service evaluation study. These include the potential impact of the findings of the evaluation on the lives of those in receipt of the service. The importance of researcher reflexivity in these circumstances is vital. This paper describes one researcher’s reflections about their own engagement with participants of an evaluation of a parenting course. The potential contributors to the evaluation of the course that are the focus of this paper were 18 mothers with learning difficulties. All had been referred to the course because of concerns about their parenting capacity or the welfare of their child.The power dynamics in the interactions between the researcher and the participants existed on a number of levels. The starting point was an asymmetrical power relation with the researcher defining the scope, content and conduct of the evaluation. Efforts to engage with the participants included trying to remodel some of this power and minimise the distance and separateness between each party. The parents too had some power, by using the interviews as a therapeutic space, providing socially desirable accounts, or ultimately jeopardising the evaluation of the programme by refusing to participate. In this unique context, the power relationships were dynamic and inter-linked, feeling like a dance between active agents within the negotiations. Elements of Tew’s (2006) conceptual framework of ‘productive’ and ‘limiting’ modes of power were both in evidence and likely to have influenced the findings of the evaluation.

AB - There are significant ethical considerations when engaging with the participants of a service evaluation study. These include the potential impact of the findings of the evaluation on the lives of those in receipt of the service. The importance of researcher reflexivity in these circumstances is vital. This paper describes one researcher’s reflections about their own engagement with participants of an evaluation of a parenting course. The potential contributors to the evaluation of the course that are the focus of this paper were 18 mothers with learning difficulties. All had been referred to the course because of concerns about their parenting capacity or the welfare of their child.The power dynamics in the interactions between the researcher and the participants existed on a number of levels. The starting point was an asymmetrical power relation with the researcher defining the scope, content and conduct of the evaluation. Efforts to engage with the participants included trying to remodel some of this power and minimise the distance and separateness between each party. The parents too had some power, by using the interviews as a therapeutic space, providing socially desirable accounts, or ultimately jeopardising the evaluation of the programme by refusing to participate. In this unique context, the power relationships were dynamic and inter-linked, feeling like a dance between active agents within the negotiations. Elements of Tew’s (2006) conceptual framework of ‘productive’ and ‘limiting’ modes of power were both in evidence and likely to have influenced the findings of the evaluation.

KW - Research engagement

KW - power

KW - research reflexivity

KW - Parents with learning difficulties

U2 - 10.1177/1473325019867379

DO - 10.1177/1473325019867379

M3 - Article

SP - 1

EP - 17

JO - Qualitative Social Work

JF - Qualitative Social Work

SN - 1473-3250

ER -