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Participant-Guided Mobile Methods: Investigating Personal Experiences of Communities Following a Disaster

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By: , , & Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases
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Abstract

This case study provides a critical account of the qualitative research component of a large-scale mixed-methods interdisciplinary project called Beyond Bushfires: Community Resilience and Recovery. The study is investigating the medium- to long-term impacts on individuals and communities of the Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009 in Victoria, Australia. For the qualitative research, we conducted in-depth interviews that incorporated participant-guided mobile methods. Participants were asked to take us to places that were important to them in their community, and we also photographed features that participants pointed out, using these images both as an additional data source for analysis and as a way to illustrate the project. The method yielded rich, contextually informed observational and interview data, and here, we discuss the benefits and challenges we encountered. These include the emergence of context-dependent data, a rebalancing of power and control within the interview with challenges to researcher assumptions, the value of preparing for and following up after the interview and the inclusion of children in the research. Practical considerations for using this method are also highlighted.

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