There's no place like Home
: A narrative exploration of community and place in Ireland and what it means to belong

  • Patricia Hehir

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)

Abstract

This narrative inquiry explores the broader meaning of community, belonging and home, by probing from the outside in, seeking to make the invisible visible, and uncovering what we take for granted, to get you, the reader, to think and feel about what it means to belong in a place or community. Though a person may be living in a particular location for many years, it does not necessarily mean that they feel that they belong there or have any sense of community and rootedness in the place. That emotional dimension of status or attachment, the intimate feeling of being at home, is something which is not frequently visited or analysed by scholars. Deeper, more searching and often troublesome questions of ‘who am I?’ and ‘where do I belong?’ cannot be easily isolated from one another and are deeply interwoven amongst broader threads of identity and place, of equality and power, of conformity and exclusion, and of memory and home.

The research takes an approach which permeates the boundaries of the interpretative hermeneutic paradigm and the transformative paradigm. In doing so, the stories are witnessed from the inside, through the direct experiences of people, and the role of the researcher in this model is to understand, explain, and demystify social reality through the eyes of the participants, interpreting meaning rather than causes of human actions. However, as an adult education practitioner and community activist, I feel a resonance with narratives of social justice, inequality, and on the conscious recognition of the oppressive depictions of reality. Although I do not situate myself fully in the transformative paradigm, I acknowledge the permeability of the paradigmatic boundaries which inform my approach within this dissertation.

Reflection and commentary on my own learning from undertaking this research is also an integral part of the overall findings and analysis, which is undertaken as a discussion between myself as researcher and a fictional character who is introduced within the body of the work. Our journey brings us to a landscape where the keystones of love, care and solidarity are identified as vital landmarks of self-fulfilment and belonging, and onwards towards a horizon where we can place ourselves within time and space, assuring ourselves that life means something and that we ourselves matter.
Date of Award19 Mar 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorMalcolm J Reed (Supervisor) & Sheila M Trahar (Supervisor)

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