06/06/17 – @ University of Leeds, Baines Wing, School of Healthcare
Convened by Dr Gillian Proctor.
I gave a paper entitled When the Researcher is a Wounded Storyteller: exploring emotional labour & personal impact in research.
This presentation arises from my personal experience in research, rather than turning to papers and books for its data. The discussion undertaken explores the practicalities of doing research when there is no question of assumed ‘objective detachment’ on the part of the researcher.
I undertook a qualitative study that analysed the stories of men with disordered eating. However, I, too, am an eating-disordered man. Whilst the findings from the study proved significant, what was more pronounced was the level of emotional labour. As a qualitative researcher, I felt primed to be reflexive, but I could not have anticipated the nature of the reflexivity required, and the ongoing personal work that investing in the project demanded. I use the concept of the Wounded Storyteller to frame my response to these demands and to stimulate discussion.
I aim to achieve three things. Firstly, I will provide an overview of what it is like to engage in research that not only recognises subjectivity, but harnesses and reports on it. Secondly, I want to share a personal account of the emotional labour that occurs when researching a personally resonant topic. Finally, I will discuss the role of oft-assumed concepts such as reflexivity, reflection and journaling in bringing the research to fruition, whilst maintaining analytical and conceptual rigour.