Research Student: Katherine Wright
Participant Perspectives on Participation: A narrative exploration of public participation in a case study area
In this research, I am using a case study area to explore different modes and domains of public participation, as well as engaging with instances of non-participation. The context for the research is provided by the UK government's promotion of participation across a number of policy areas and more generally. Rather than seeking to evaluate the success or otherwise of participation, or to consider the outcomes, the research is looking at which factors inform and impact upon opportunities for(different modes of) participation, and how different spaces ofparticipation are shaped. I aim to critically engage with official accounts that attach value to certain modes of participation, which identify it with the solving of a range of social problems and which assume that increased opportunities for participation can be equated with citizen 'empowerment'. By engaging with the experiences of participants and non-participants through narrative research, I aim to explore the different ways in which structural factors inform, constrain, enable or provoke particular choices about participation, from formal political participation to informal modes of interaction and leisure.
I am using narrative research methods within an Institutional Ethnographic framework in order to carry out this research, as well as including some ethnographic methods The research is intended to be to some extent a participatory project, including elements such as participant validation and analysis workshops with participants, and consequently there are interesting overlaps between the methodological and substantive elements of the research.
I teach on two first year modules, Study Skills and Central Debates in Welfare. Previously, I have taught on two other first year modules, Sociological Analysis of Contemporary Society and Identity, Difference and Exclusion.