Long-lived teams working across the primary-secondary analysis spectrum.


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Presentation given by Karen Henwood at event 2 of New Frontiers in Qualitative Longitudinal Research: 'Research Relationships in Time'. Cardiff University, 7th February 2013.

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  • Assists in levelling out peaks & troughs in workloadsSlide 2This core set of objectives for our project are the ones you will find on our project website (www.energybiographies.org). They are simplified from the original proposal as the website is intended to be an accessible resource.One of our objectives is to “develop understanding of everyday energy use by investigating and comparing people's different ‘energy biographies’ across a range of social settings”. So in addition to seeking to study how life transitions are interpreted in terms of their impacts on energy use, we will be comparing the ways in which people undertake their routine, daily tasks that are involved in sustaining life (called practices) - across different social settings - including at home, work - and travelling between the two. This objective (in its more fully articulated form) shows that we are keen to recognise that questions about mobility (e.g. transportation) are implicated when studying everyday energy use: also that we need to be able to conceptualise people as mobile subjects’ with relationships to spaces and places that need not simply be rooted in pre-given, sealed, bounded and hence static identities – and where their place- or located-ness arises out of (is produced by) processes that are more dynamically, multiply and partially positioned. Our second objective 2 is to….All of our study participants have some familiarity with energy demand reduction interventions that we characterise as taking place in sites that are niche or mainstream. In mainstream sites energy demand reduction interventions are present but do not feature as central to participants everyday activities (e.g. switching off computers before leaving work). Niche involve substantial interventions that involve changes to established everyday routine uses of energy e.g. living off grid and hence without electricity unless it is generated on site by hydro electric schemes of solar photovoltaic cells. We are interested in how these interventions fold into the course of people’s lives – how far they take hold as ways of altering/reworking everyday practice- and whether it is the case that people’s life histories are implicated in these “change trajectories” (and hence whether trajectories involving intensification or reduction in energy consumption are set in train). This involves drawing attention to significant moments of change - first car, setting up home, retirement – and the various circumstances surrounding it.Objective 3. In UK policy there is a current preoccupation with communities as catalysts for change – not just around energy but for providing more resilience to all manner of deeply embedded structurally social problems. A part of our project is investigating the extent to which different community configurations (niche/mainstream) can support reductions in energy consumption. It was a condition of our funding that e work with communities that were winners of the UK government’s low carbon communities challenge - which brings advantages as the communities we have involved have a pre-existing interests in energy demand and its reduction. However, it also raises issues and challenges (although I will not really be focussing on these here).  Objective 4. We have removed here some significant wording suggesting that we have a particular interest in studyingforms of consciousness or awareness that may be opened up by investigating ways of relating to energy and its use within different (psychosocial) spaces of perception. Still work in progress & not reported on specifically here.
  • We have developed think understanding of these issues from multiple perspectives as a result of our synchronous experiences of primary research, team working, cross project secondary analysis/synthesis and as an originator project for an independent secondary analysis project.
  • QSA as a nebulous concept; overlapping terms, Heaton’s groundwork –QSA includes data originators revising data as primary-cum secondary analysts– unhelpful tension language of scaling up and purported strengths of QR (texture, nuance, depth) Served to take us back to what it means to do a close reading of subjective accounts/qualitative dataAnd appreciate how our analytical work involved considering what came along with taking into account our particulara set of sometimes quite different relationships with our data – K as Pi linking back to the previous project, FS as research interviewer and hands on organiser of the new data sets and coming anew to the old data set but generating a good deal of familiarity through intensive team working, and CC as arriving late to the team and learning about the project and the data through engagement with other team members and disucssion of selected trasncripts for in depth, narrative and psychosocial style analysis. Something about the relational ties developed through project working that created the conditions fro being able to decide what claims one might entertain making from close working with and interpretive analysis of the data, are one’s that should be considered more credible and a suitable basis for working up to make wider substantive and theoretical claims.
  • Stress on the importance of QSA taking place in a timely and careful way & avoiding capitulating to external pressures and producing poor research which risks detriment to primary & secondary projects
  • The question set out for this first session is CAN RELATIONSHIPS BE SHARED? From the consideration of teamwork reflections on SA thus far, the answer is both yes and no (or with far more difficulty)– depending on whether the relationships fall within or transcend the boundaries of primary project working practices. However, while the configuration of project/team relationships gives an initial indication, evidently there is a good deal more to be pursued about this topic.A number of immediate caveats follow:Boundaries are made and not fixed; they serve particular needs and circumstances that can change.Relationships may take the form of alliances that may be situated, subject to institutional constraint, and – should circumstances change – could of course prove to be quite temporary. It is necessary to avoid reifying such alliances.The power of relational thinking about ethics in research practice derives, in part, through a contrast that it helps to make with normative ethics (as discussed by Natasha).But there are also well understood risks and a particular need to pay attention to the many challenges that are posed to relational ways of working : the ties that are enabling (in the ways already discussed in the first slide – through deepening understanding, increasing reflexivity etc) are also the ties that bind. Interdependency can mean parties feeling constrained if it is set alongside dominant liberal humanist ideas of “freedom of choice”. There are cultural temptations to over-idealising particular ideas of relationships e.g. over-simplified ideas about what it means to adopt ethical relationships of “care”Although this is not something that can be considered in these short talk, when I was asked by Rachel to identify my extended readings, I thought the issue of how to start to build a theoretical platform capable of opening up the challenges of relational working is one that could usefully be brought into view. So I thought of two sources pointing to ideas about how to theorise about the reasons why it is so challenging to understand the meaning and practice of research relationships, and to make t possible to start to mine a relevant research literature.
  • Lon term project aspiration“creating empirical and conceptual spaces for making visible people’s everyday energy practices & reflecting on community led demand reduction intervention, to enable people to engage with transformations towards more sustainable futures “
  • The first phase of our research involved building and developing relationships with case site representatives – initial meetings and interviews, advisory panel, volunteering (Karen Parkhill ) – though represented here as a first phase this is in fact an ongoing process of sustained contact and involvement with case site representatives and participants. All of the case site representatives are also participants in the longitudinal research.
  • We are conducting our research with four contrasting communities. Two of our communities are in the vicinity of Cardiff. Ely-Careau is typically reported as a deprived inner city area and is increasingly prominent in local council schemes aimed at promoting community development. Peterston Super Ely is an affluent commuter village on the outskirts. Tir-y-Gafel is an eco-village in Pembrokeshire West Wales. It is our niche site and over half way through it’s 5 year period of constructing a community of 9 households living off the national electricity supply grid, building their own homes using low impact designs from locally sourced sustainable materials (e.g. straw bales), and seeking to meet 75% of their household needs directly from the land as a condition of their planning permission. The Royal Free hospital, one of the largest employers in West London, is reducing the energy demand of the hospital in line with the UK governments Carbon Reduction Commitment (& its increasingly challenging targets). Although the interventions to reduce energy demand as experienced by the workers at the hospital are not beyond those many UK citizens experience, this case affords a unique opportunity to examine the wider impacts upon employees in terms of both their home and work practices.
  • An important and original aspect of this study is that it is longitudinal. By revisiting participants over time we are able to explore changes and continuities in energy use in ways which are unlikely to emerge in one-off ‘snapshot’ interviews.First interviews were conducted between December and May 2012. Second interviews between July and November 2012 and third interviews will be conducted between January and April 2013. This slide shows the main themes of each interview. It illustrates how by connecting with earlier interviews we are linking the discussions together, creating a conversation across three occasions rather than three separate conversations.In QLR, maintaining a sample of people across time is particularly important. In addition to using visual methods within the interviews (as the slide indicates) we have also used activities involving photographs between interviews as a way to engage participants and encourage continued participation.
  • From our previous research, and as we found in the first interviews, we know that asking people to talk about the future can be challenging. In order to facilitate discussion of the future – which forms a large part of our third interviews – we have included videos of two visions of the future. Firstly, participants are shown clips of a house constructed in the 1950s by Monsanto plastics company, which formed part of the Disneyland exhibit ‘tomorrowland’. The clip includes developments which are now taken for granted (e.g. electric toothbrushes and razors) and those which are quite different from how we live today (e.g. everything in the house made of plastic). The second set of clips come from a channel 4 programme ‘the home of the future’ which renovates a family’s home to include many future technologies (e.g. an electric car and an ‘indoor garden’ to grow plants without soil and using little water). By asking participants to reflect on the clips we get insights into how they imagine their futures (e.g. if they do not like the depicted reliance on technology, what would they like as an alternative?)
  • In-depth qualitative energy locality study conducted in the summer of 200953 participants were interviewed on two occasionsParticipants recruited from 2 case site localities: surrounding Aberthaw B coal-fired power station in the Vale of Glamorgan and Hinkley Point nuclear power station in South West England
  • Study participants with no children did not seem to be less likely to raise concerns about future generations or discuss the future in a more abstract way through lack of caring, although they did raise issues about environmental demand and sustainability not raised by the parents.
  • From my experiences, reported here , of working in two differently constituted teams-based projectIn the sense of being perceived to bemutually satisfying,of equal benefit, or ones that individuals involved in the “sharing” have involved appropriate forms of reciprocity. The ties that we may value for all sorts of disparate reasons (for bringing satisfaction, reward and pleasure) are also the ties that bind. Perhaps we need to accept that investing in relationships can bring its own risks and costs as well as benefits; that the latter may not be equal, reciprocity may be expected some time in the future (but may or may not happen), and one cannot assume that it will always function benignly in everyone’s professional interests.
  • Long-lived teams working across the primary-secondary analysis spectrum.

    1. 1. Long-lived teams working across the primary-secondary analysis spectrum Prof. Karen Henwood NFQLR “The research relationship in time” February 7th 2013
    2. 2. The case ‘for relationships’ in QLRFamiliarity & depth of knowledge can develop & be co-produced over timeCross generational exchanges; distributions of capitalsMakes possible ethical sharing and pooling of valued resources (data sharing and pooling, reciprocity in other ways)Intimacy as a resource : intensity brings insight; increases reflexivity – worked on over time – not just looking backIntimacy as a provocation (??)Conducive to “careful judgement based on practical knowledge based in time & place” (Edwards & Mauthner, 2002)Technology risks obsolescence, relationships can promote resilience by enduring/adapting in time
    3. 3. Lessons Learned: One Project Team’s Reflections on Qualitative Secondary Analysis (QSA) in Austere Times• MaF (Henwood, Shirani & Coltart; 2007-2011)• QLR study of accounts provided by 2 cohorts of men (2000 & 2008) of their lived experiences and relationships in & through time (before-up to 8 years after first child)• Part of Timescapes Network : dynamics of continuity & change – tracking through multiple waves of in depth qualitative interviews & multimodal methods• Unique experiences of efforts at “scaling up” through qualitative secondary analysis (QSA) Published in FQS, 14 (1), January 2013
    4. 4. MaF project team’s reflections on tensions & dilemmas of QSA Ongoing , evolving challengesContext: rising optimism surrounding QSAQSA as a strategy for QR to Definitional issues & Historical & navigate profound socio- Institutional Context of QSA cultural, political & - as sources of ongoing tension - & insight into ways of working economic challenges across the primary-secondary spectrum Epistemological Issues – risks of treatingHowever, such efforts risk data as free-standing or realist privileging conceptual & position of making data whole substantive developments versus own experiences of careful over continuing professional attention to acknowledging the situated knowledge claims, & ethical challenges intellectual commitments, relational & negotiated workings & legacies of creators of original work
    5. 5. Conclusions: Under-examined costs and risks of QSA• A defence of interpretive epistemological positioning of QLR• Over-valuing distancing over proximate knowledge replays a quantitative epistemological positioning• Retaining a focus on meaning & context in the generation of insights promotes subsequent meta- analysis and synthesis of findings• Strongest arguments in favour of QSA (not involving revisiting by original researchers) is for new inquiries to approach the data sets in ways that are temporally, historically & analytically separate from the originating team• Stress on the importance of QSA taking place in a timely and careful way & avoiding risking detriment to (the legacies of) primary & secondary projects
    6. 6. Can research relationships be shared? The need to theorise relationships : discourse & subjectivityAside from the powerful insights afforded by relational thinking about (research and other forms of professional) practice, many challenges are posed to relational ways of working : - The ties that are enabling (through deepening understanding, increasing reflexivity etc) are also the ties that bind. - Interdependency can mean parties feeling constrained if it is set alongside dominant liberal humanist ideas of “freedom of choice”. - There are cultural temptations to over-idealise particular ideas of relationships e.g. over-simplified ideas about what it means to adopt ethical relationships of “care”.Two starter references for building a theoretical scaffold - both classics in social psychological theory .i) Rachel Hare Mustin (1997) “Discourse in the mirrored room: A Postmodern Analysis of Therapy “ii) Jane Flax Forgotten “Form of Close Combat: Mothers and Daughters Revisited”
    7. 7. Rachel Hare Mustin (1997) “Discourse in the mirrored room: A Postmodern Analysis of Therapy “• Taking a discursive perspective on relationships means posing questions about the challenges of arriving at ethical judgements when value conflicts are involved• Such value conflicts can relate to different gender, generational positionnings etc in respect of justice, fairness, & equality discourses
    8. 8. Jane Flax “Forgotten Forms of Close Combat: Mothers and Daughters Revisited”• Questions about gendered subjectivity necessarily complicate assumptions about the primacy of attachments or connections in relationships.• There are limits to such attachments as guiding principles in understanding how we experience the power and importance of relationships.
    9. 9. Images from Energy Biographies QLR research
    10. 10. Disconnected Futures: Primary analysis conducted 2012/13 in an extended (long lived) research teamA major research initiative is under way to study issues arising for people and communities as a result of efforts to promote low carbon transitions/reduce energy demand in everyday life.Energy Biographies is an ESRC/EPSRC project (Nov 2010-Sept 2014) taking an innovative methodological approach to investigate “openings for change” in people everyday energy practices. ”QLR interview (& multimodal) methods adapted to the new topic area – drawing on experiences from MaF.Is it possible to create new working relationships among members of an enlarged originating project (in the Cardiff University Understanding Risk Group); and the enlarged Energy Biographies team of researchers?
    11. 11. Methods • Follow up • These involve Phase 2a: interviews 5 AND interviews and Narrative 10 months with a informal meetings Interviews selected sample with case site from each case representatives December 2011- site. Participants and a wider range April 2012 are being asked to of stakeholders to • 18-30 initial engage in a range provide detailed narrative of other multi contextual interviews in modal methods information. each case site (e.g. photographs) area (n=68) Phase 1: Scoping Phase 2b: ExtendedStakeholder Interviews Biographies & July 2011-December Multimodal Method 2011 May 2012-February 2013
    12. 12. Phase 1: Developing Relationships• Case Site Representatives – initial meetings • Also full participants in longitudinal research• Advisory Panel• Community Volunteering• Sustaining Relationships(e.g. Christmas cards) This is a community newsletter developed by Karen Parkhill for Futurespace
    13. 13. Case SitesPeterston and ElyCaerau, Cardiff Royal Free Hospital, Lo ndonTir Y Gafel Eco-village, Pembrokeshire
    14. 14. Phase 3: Qualitative Longitudinal1. Initial interview – establishing energy biographies through a focus on three themes: • Community and context • Daily routine • Life transitions2. Second interview – a detailed focus on everyday energy use • Discussion of important life changes since interview 1 • Exploring everyday energy use through participant generated photographs • Following up emerging themes from interview 1: waste, frugality and guilt3. Life transitions • Discussion of important life changes since interview 2 • Exploring everyday routines through text-prompted photographs • Expanded talk about the future (both personal and social), facilitated through video clips
    15. 15. Biographical narrative interviews Daily Routine Time (past, presents Community & futures) Transitions
    16. 16. Phase 3: Imagined Futures (Multi-modal Methods)Monsanto house of the future 1957 Channel 4 home of the future 2012 3. Activity 3 – video clips • During interview 3 participants are shown clips from a 1950s and 2010s version of what a home of the future might look like • The clips facilitate talk about the future, which can otherwise be difficult to discuss
    17. 17. Disconnected futures - Data analysis (in press, Local Environment)• Could a new set of working relationships be formed, taking into account incoming specialist temporal knowledge? Which research practices would prove most useful?• Not EB’s data; energy localities (UR group, 2009) - 53 interviews of public perception of different energy production facilities and futures (2009, Aberthaw coal fired power station and Hinckley Point Nuclear Power Station)• Selected for investigation an issue of relevance across both projects (Maf/Eb’s) domains: intergenerational equity• With a well known problematic within the sustainable environment/social change/ futures arena) - Environmental justice literature suggests current generations have the moral duty to protect natural resources in the interests of future generations, - Yet (in the wider environmental practice literature) it is said to be difficult for people to see the consequences of their actions in remotely distant other times and places.
    18. 18. How the analysis was done…Familiarity with data (UR group) – it would be possible to explore people’s connections to other times and places using the public perceptions/energy locality dataWhole team: it was important (for Ebs study) to explore the implications of this for understanding their perspectives on equity, justice and ethical issues related to energy production & consumptionMaf strategy - initial inspection (FS) of relevant data revealed temporal pattern relating people’s lifecourse positioning to ethical extensions into the future and connections formed between their own practices and energy consumption.
    19. 19. Presentation of analysis/findings• Having structured analysis around life course positioning of family members, subsequent efforts thickened the interpretations of the basic pattern (interpretive contextualisation)• Analysis process revealed contentiousness (value differences) and refined interpretations : “living links to the future” via children not in themselves necessary to make empathic, ethical links to the future• What was established, though, was that, when there are completing pressures and moral demands with something having to give, in order to understand what this is likely to be means paying attention to the different time horizons associated with such pressures.• In the case of pressures associated with parenting , these are located in the immediate - but socially and formalised routines associates with raising children whereas, by contrast, moral pressures related to levels of energy consumption and concerns about future sustainability are located in the long term future.
    20. 20. Disconnected Futures Analysis ConclusionHence: our conclusion was that:“ the different temporalities go some way to explaining why certain actions take precedence and that, therefore, there are important questions to be asked (from an EB’s point of view) about how is it possible to keep these competing temporal pressures in mind?“
    21. 21. Review & Conclusion• QLR offers the promise of temporal insights that can be grasped when it crosses into new substantive arenas.• Reliance in QLR on the importance of analytical work generated through relationship-focussed research remains important; in that: i) it can be important to work with established team work practices and understand their practices for deepening and strengthening QLR researchers epistemic claims ii) It is possible to change established team boundaries, and produce enhanced analytical work with academic value• However, it is not always clear in what ways researcher relationships – even within such teams- are ‘sharing’ relationships : there are ways of building theoretical understanding of this.
    22. 22. For more information please visit our website at: www.energybiographies.org