"With us and about us": Participatory methods in research with "vulnerable" or marginalized groups.

2017-09-22T10:29:58Z (GMT) by Jo Aldridge
In much health and social scientific research that includes “vulnerable,” “hard-to-reach” or marginalized groups, claims are often made about participatory methods and techniques that enhance participant engagement and “voice.” In many cases, however, the validity of these claims remains unclear – the nature and extent of participant involvement in such studies is not always defined and the value and efficacy, as well as the challenges, of using participatory methods are often misunderstood. In many respects, these oversights can be explained by the lack of cognate and applicable participatory models or frameworks that can help researchers work more effectively with marginalized participants. This chapter explores these issues drawing on the author’s own extensive research with marginalized groups and participatory models of working that both promote and enhance participant engagement and emancipation in research processes. Such approaches see “vulnerable,” marginalized, or socially excluded research participants in transformative roles in research, including as co-researchers, co-analysts, and designers and producers of their own research agendas and projects.