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Piloting In

plane

Image: aeroplane flying overhead. Photo (cc) Andy Mabbett.

I’m currently working on a pilot study into the experiences of disabled Christians. This will be an entirely qualitative study focused primarily on disabled people’s experiences, as a way in to research on the theologies or practices of specific churches. Such disabling structures will be visible in people’s stories, as Barnes makes clear in his work on emancipatory research – although he warns against a sole focus on experience, which is where later stages of this research will come into play. With a number of people willing to take part at this stage, I need to decide how I’m going to approach the subject with pilot participants. It’s a difficult stage of the research here – I am committed to the emancipatory paradigm and to allowing participants to set the research agenda, but I do need initial methods to get the ball rolling. I’m loathe to write a detailed research design, nonethless. I need a provisional, very flexible one.

Meanwhile this week: A particular experience is reminding me of the social barriers to education and research that disabled people still face. Which makes me more determined that this research WILL be done by a disabled researcher. There are still major barriers to achieving what I believe should be a long-term goal of having representative numbers of disabled researchers in social research, especially disability research. As Barnes and Oliver, along with others, have been saying for years.

With that thought, I’m off to read Nancy Eiesland and move the focus back to religion.

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Julie #

    I can’t say I fully understand the argument, however, the crucks seems to be whether a disabled researcher is required to fully understand the nuances of a topic. Yes, as in your first blog you can understand how the layout of a church, eg steps, aisle widths etc, but you could understand this as an architech. I think one example that sums up the experience is that of a friend who used to use disabled bays as a routine, only stating she was going to be there for a few minutes. I explained that you needed a wider bay to get disability aids out of the car or to be able to manovever a wheelchair! She hadn’t realised that! My church, as an example has recently been refurbed to have a ‘disabled’ toilet, however because the church has some children with prams, they are stored in the toilet!!

    August 12, 2010
  2. Kim Bond #

    I did read that article, & it was good! Wheat from chaff is a good point, one often ignored in the battle for numbers. It seems odd to fight for market share of beliefs! For me it tied in with why X is well suited for studying X. The act of observation alters the results primarily because the observer is foreign to the environment. There can be a degree of gawking, marvelling at what seem to be striking differences that distract from the more subtle, more telling ones. It takes one to know one, well not always, but it can help to identify that which is not already know, & what is really not so obvious.
    It will be interesting to see how people self define, how they interpret themselves.

    Makes me think all poetical! :D

    March 8, 2010
  3. Kim: Ah, you read the Frank Skinner article – good, wasn’t it? I’ll try and answer questions of how to define ‘disabled Christians’ in a future post, but the basic answer is that it will probably be self-defining. As these categories often are.

    March 7, 2010
  4. Heather (seeing as you're using your real name, I will...) #

    I love your blog title. Worth many a post in itself, I think.

    Could you also explain, though, why does your reserach HAVE to be done by a disabled person…?

    March 7, 2010
    • Heather: A post along the lines of ‘Uncovering the Roof’ is indeed on its way soon. As for the second question – well, I didn’t say my research had to be done by a disabled person, but rather that I was determined that it *would* be. For why, I’ll have to write a post in response to that, since it’s complicated. (Heh. Should have realised a blog would only mean I had to do more work.)

      March 7, 2010
  5. Kim Bond #

    “This is the doormat as positive role model — a doormat who’s more concerned about the “welcome” than the muddy feet. Surely the central image of Christianity is someone who can shoot fireballs out of his fingertips allowing himself to be nailed to a wooden cross — submission as the ultimate show of strength — love as impenetrable armour.”
    Wonderful sentiment, wonderful. The modern face of Christianity (as mentioned in this article) is rarely very Christ-like. When does it become blasphemy? Not the muttering of “damn” after a papercut kind, but the unholier than thou kind? The do as I say not as I do kind? The plank in the eye kind?

    A church, in my idealised understanding, is a gathering of people sharing divine love. Physical boundaries act as an expulsion. To stand and preach of g_ds love, wrath, intent etc before a congregation selected partially by their ability to get into the building is a rather pitiful hypocrisy. Especially when it is not miracles being asked for; they could make a start by moving pews to create space & putting a ramp out front. That’s carpentry after all

    I’m interested to know if & if so how you’ll define “disabled Christians”?

    The emphasis on experience I think is especially clever & relevant to this study. Disability, indeed any minority, is so often defined by ticky-boxes. It’ll be refreshing to have free-speech :)

    ps ~love~ your blog!

    March 5, 2010

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