Qualitative Longitudinal Research: Summary of a two day conference

On Monday (8th June) and Tuesday (9th June) I attended, and contributed to Professor Bren Neale‘s retirement conference and what an event it was! On Monday, I presented alongside some excellent speakers about my methodological strategy for conducting qualitative secondary analysis on two of the Tmescapes datasets and here is a picture of me presenting:

Me presenting

Others speakers included Bren herself, Nick Emmel, Sarah Irwin, Susie Weller, Ruth Patrick and Joanna Bornat. Between us we reflected on the methodological, theoretical, ethical and conceptual affordances, and challenges, of conducting qualitative longitudinal research (QLR). What struck me on the day, was the great flexibility that QLR offers social researchers in terms of developing and testing out more innovative methods and in developing a really rich understanding of how time is constituted in our lives as they unfold. QLR is certainly no simple task, yet it can uncover really powerful understandings about the micro dynamics of the lives of individuals, while also connecting these to broader structural narratives and macro-dynamics.

More details about the day are on the FLaG website and presentation slides will be available soon.

The Tuesday event was more of a celebration of Bren’s career and the all female panel spoke very warmly about Bren’s generosity and her academic successes over the years. In the morning, presentations were given by Libby Bishop, Henrietta O’Connor and Jane Gray, followed by Bren, Rachel Thomson, Tess Ridge and Irene Hardill in the afternoon. Between them, the presentations covered an impressive array of topics including issues raised by archiving data and the challenges of using data ethically (Libby); the affordances of researching the ‘by-products’ of archived data in social research, so the paradata, field notes and marginalia of social researchers themselves (Henrietta); configurational approaches to understanding family ties and relationship over time (Jane); the theoretical underpinning of QL research and time (Bren); new frontiers for QL research (Rachel); research with low-income families, particularly lone-mothers and children (Tess); and finally impact using QL research (Irene). Once again, the mix of papers allowed us all to consider and explore the ethical challenges of researching across time, the affordances of researching across time and new ways of thinking about how we work with qualitative data. The presentations about impact (by Tess and Irene) were also really interesting because they illustrated the ways in which social research that is oriented to time, can influence people’s lives through the shaping of policy and practice.

I have by no means done justice to the event in this small space here. However if you would like more information about the event and want to find out more about the presenters and their presentations, I was also tweeting each day from the FLaG Twitter account. On the Monday I used #QLmethods, and #time on the Tuesday. To view these, please follow @FLAG_UoL and look at the hashtags and the feeds.

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