15 SES 03, Case Study
This paper is part of a four year research project financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (EDU 2015-68617-C4-4-R. Director: Teresa Susinos). Its main objective is the study of processes of participation and social inclusion of groups without a voice. The project is being developed in schools and social institutions where processes of participatory research are deployed so that the participants can gain agency and develop research on issues they have identified as problematic in their lives (Mills et al, 2010).
In this paper we will analyze one of these collaborative research projects developed with inmates in the process of social reintegration.
The objective proposed by the research group addresses the problem of communications between inmates and their families in prison, something they want to contribute to transforming. To this end, the process of participatory research has focused on the collaborative production of an audiovisual document which aims to describe, publicize and denounce this topic from the perspective of the protagonists using their own voices. In addition, various social innovative methodologies which enable ways of giving voice to be expanded have been incorporated in the audiovisual production.
The theoretical foundation of our project, based on our previous work on the Student Voice Movement, now extends to other social groups considered voiceless, not only in schools but also in other social and educational institutions. The research projects undertaken are focused on increasing the decision-making capacity of the subjects in relation to their life, their education and the local community (Arnot & Reay, 2007; Bragg, 2007; Fielding, 2011; Freire, 1975; Rudduck, 2006; Susinos, 2013). Therefore, the aspect that articulates our research is participation which we assume to be people’s right to influence the real and make decisions about the common. In this case, participation affects the transformation of the way that prison experience is perceived and named, inmates’ needs, their preferences and their rights (Fraser & Honnet, 2004). We believe that the development of spaces of deliberative democracy are a legitimate way of deciding on the common good through processes of dialogue, discussion, negotiation and choice (Samuelsson and Bøyum, 2015; Thompson, 2007). The ultimate objective of these processes of change is that each group increases their social presence and their agency in these institutions through participatory research processes that serve as prototypes for social change.
Some research questions are:
− How and why was the research topic chosen (in this case communications with relatives in prison)? Why was audiovisual document selected as a vehicle of inquiry?
− How has the collaborative research developed during the whole project? What methods/technologies have been used for its development? What were the relationships like between the different participants involved in the project (inmates, educator, university team…)?
− How was the dissemination of the audiovisual document planned? What types of strategies have been deployed for connecting with society and improving the impact of the research?
− Which are the main benefits of this participatory research in the processes of social inclusion of the inmates?
Our research is framed in the tradition of participatory research which assumes a democratic vision of the processes of knowledge construction and aims at the critical transformation of reality (Bourke, 2009; Browne et.al.2012; Nind, 2014). Specifically, it is a participatory case study in which all the participants design and develop all phases of the research process which has a clear inclusive objective (Aldridge, 2015; Mills, et al. 2010). The participating group consists of 6 young male adults with custodial sentences in a social integration centre, the social worker for this institution and the team of 3 researchers from the University of Cantabria. All of them constitute the group of co-researchers. This group has advanced in its research under a dialogical research model characterized by the horizontality of relationships and the recognition of diverse knowledge that converges in a common objective. Among data collection techniques we have used participant observation (Flick, 2004) and the semi-structured interview (Kvale, 2011). In addition, we have incorporated the use of photographs and videos elicitation (Banks, 2010), collaborative designed research interviews (jointly developed between the university team and the inmates), dialogic research meetings and interview-tour or deriva (Pellicer, Rojas y Vivas i Elias, 2012), etc. All this is defined and used for the production of a participatory audiovisual document which summarizes our research. This group has embarked on a “cycle of inclusive participation”, shared by the various schools and institutions participating in the overall project, which consists of four phases: − Opening, tuning. The work team from each institution is formed (consisting of researchers and participants from the institution itself) and the needs, interests and immediate objectives of the team are analysed together. − Process of democratic deliberation. The group seeks to answer this general question “What do we want to research, change, communicate or denounce?” which leads to dialogue and deliberative decision-making. − Improvement project. Following the process of deliberation each group undertakes their own project with the objective of extending their agency and their social presence. − Assessment, dissemination and social impact. Each team carries out an assessment of the process. In addition, products will be developed that enable publicizing and disseminating the experiences.
− The process of joint deliberation on what could be the objective of the project showed numerous aspects about the life of the penal institution that are worth to analyse. This initial deliberation dialogue facilitates the implementation of various strategies for debate, negotiation, reflection, discussion, etc. which are necessary and valuable for democratic participation and inclusion. − Another relevant result relates to research strategies in partnership that have been used and their capacity to facilitate individual and collective expression through different languages. We will analyze the value of the techniques mentioned earlier in the process of the construction of a collaborative audiovisual. Thanks to these techniques the expression of individual feelings, the negotiation of meanings, the elicitation of memories or the access to relatives has been possible. − The process of participatory research also allows us to identify some results related to the research relationships maintained throughout the whole process, the evolution of the inmates’ and the researchers’ roles, as well as the value that the combination of different knowledges (academic, practical, technological, experiential, etc.), has for achieving the research product (the audiovisual document). − Despite the limitations related to space and time that result from a project with people with custodial sentences, these complications have nevertheless lead to ad hoc and more creative forms of participation (closely linked to technologies), that give value to other channels of communication and alternative languages in the promotion of dialogue and exchange in these and other social and educational groups. It is for this very reason that the project can be viewed as a prototype for valuable prison education proposals.
Arnot, M., & Reay, D. (2007). A Sociology of Pedagogic Voice: Power, inequality and pupil consultation. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 28(3), 311-325. Banks, M. (2010). Los datos visuales en investigación cualitativa. Madrid: Morata. Bragg, S. (2007). It’s not about systems, it´s about relationships: Building a listening culture in a primary school. In D, Thiessen & A. Cook-Shater, International handbook of student experience in elementary and secondary school (pp. 659-680). Netherlands:Springer. Bourke, L. (2009). Reflections on doing participatory research in health: participation, method and power. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 12(5), 457-474. Bowne, M., Cutler, K., DeBates, D., Gilkerson, D., & Stremmel, A. (2010). Pedagogical documentation and collaborative dialogue as tools of inquiry for pre-service teachers in early childhood education: An exploratory narrative. Journal of the scholarship of teaching and learning, 10(2), 48 - 59. Fielding, M. (2011). Patterns of partnership: student voice, intergenerational learning and democratic fellowship. In N. Mockler & J. Sachs (Eds.). Rethinking educational practice through reflexive inquiry (pp. 61-75). Netherlands: Springer. Flick, U. (2004). Introducción a la investigación cualitativa. Madrid:Morata. Fraser, N., & Honneth, A. (2004). Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange. London. Verso. Freire, P. (1975). Pedagogía del oprimido. Madrid: Siglo XXI Kvale, S. (2011). Las entrevistas en investigación cualitativa. Madrid: Morata. Mills, A., Eurepos, G., & Wiebe, E. (2010). Encyclopedia of case study research. London: Sage. Nind, M. (2014). What is Inclusive Research? London: Bloomsbury Academic. Pellicer, I., Rojas, J. y Vivas i Elias, P. (2012). La deriva: una técnica de investigación psicosocial acorde con la ciudad contemporánea. Boletín de Antropología, 27(44), 144-163. Reilly, R. (2010). Participatory case study. In A. Mills, G. Durepos, & E. Wiebe (Eds.), Encyclopedia of case study research (pp. 658–660). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Rudduck, J. (2006). Student voice, student engagement, and school reform. In A. Cook-Sather & D. Thiessen, International handbook of student experience in elementary and secondary school (pp. 587-610). Springer Netherlands. Samuelsson, M. and Bøyum, S. (2015) Education for deliberative democracy: Mapping the field. Utbildning & Demokrati, 24(1), 75–94. Susinos, T. (2013). Desde el mismo lugar no vemos lo mismo. Investigar la participación de los estudiantes como un proceso multivocal. Revista de Investigación en Educación, 11(3), 120-132. Thomson, P. (2007). Making it real: engaging students in active citizenship projects. In D. Thiessen & A. Cook-Shater (2007). International handbook of student experience in elementary and secondary school (pp. 775-804). Netherlands:Springer.
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