Acts of resistance: a reflexive inquiry into narrative group work with women who have experienced abuse or oppression
AuthorsSalter, Leah Karen
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AbstractThis thesis presents a story (in three ‘acts’) about being and talking with women who were part of narrative informed groups that I have previously co-facilitated in two locales. One took place in a Welsh valleys community and the other in a British island community. ‘Acts of resistance’ (Allan Wade, 1997) speak to social justice, a movement or action, represented in different forms in all three acts. Firstly in Act One, I discuss the co-construction of group work as an intervention into (and a resistance against) the dominant discourses of individualised psychopathology. This is a story of how the shaping of group work (as an act of solidarity) supports a wider discourse of social justice rather than a ‘what to include in a group’ story. Inquiring into the group experience (by talking with women who were part of these groups) is illustrated in Act Two. As a reflexive inquiry it leans towards narrative inquiry and autoethnography to frame the talking with women, a process I have called conversational inquiry. Reflecting on this helped me shape a particular way of engaging with the transcripts from those conversations, a five-step process I have called a responsive, temporally framed narrative inquiry, also described in the second act. This brought forth the themes (themselves representing acts of resistance) of deconstructing roles and rules, doing solidarity, co-constructing preferred futures, ‘going on’ from legacies of abuse, challenging them and us thinking, unpacking power, doing justice, and research as (an act of) resistance. These themes are explored in Act Three. The thesis tells this story of my conversations with women and a reflection on my development (movement) towards becoming a practice-based researcher, drawing on theory, personal and practice experiences and what I have learnt through the course of the inquiry. This is demonstrated in the epilogue under the umbrella of becoming a reflexive researcher. It is partly retrospective in that I am reflecting on previous practices but it is also ‘of the moment’ as I make connections with my ongoing practice and current cultural/political contexts, keeping stories of resistance within a temporal frame. I am reflecting on practice (evidenced in my field notes and in a conversation with my supervisor) and my own narrative (perhaps best evidenced in my conversations with my mother). This is all part of the wider methodological story. The research question I held in mind throughout this was, ‘how might the exploration of collective narratives inform systemic practice, research and social action; and how might this loop back to personal and social responsibility for the systemic practitioner?’. Taken from Goldsmith at al. (2010), the questions I asked of my co-researchers were: · “What were/are we making together?” · “How were/are we making it?” · “What were/are we becoming?” · “How did/do we make better social worlds?” The inquiry has enabled me to expand my own understanding of what it means to be a reflexive practitioner and provides a contribution to the wider systemic and qualitative research communities as an example of practice-based research that offers: A first hand, relationally sensitive account of how narrative approaches can support personal and collective transformation. Examples of local practice that connect with a wider (global) social justice movement. A demonstration of how systemic practices and research can live in recursive relationships with one another.
CitationSalter, L.K. (2018) ‘Acts of resistance: A reflexive inquiry into narrative group work with women who have experienced abuse or oppression’. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of: Professional Doctorate in Systemic Practice
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