Holdenby H39, Park Campus, The University of Northampton
Professor Janet Fink, School of Education and Professional Development, University of Huddersfield
This presentation explores experiences of researching the relationships of ‘hard to reach’ couples; research originating in the ESRC-funded study, Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21st Century and involving 50 couples between the ages of 18 and 65. The study placed emotions at the core of its inquiry and used a mixed methods research design to access the ways couples experience, understand and sustain their long-term relationships. Discussion takes as its focus the very low income couples living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the south-east of England who participated in the study and draws upon data from their diaries, interviews, emotion maps and collages. It will weave together two strands that emerged from the study’s analytic focus on emotions and consider what these mean for ethical research practices. The first regards the way ‘hard to reach’ couples disclosed and withheld feelings about their relationships and what this suggests about the complex emotional terrains of everyday working-class life. The second strand is concerned with the emotional investment demanded during the research encounters for both developing relationships of trust with participants and managing their ‘anxious’ participation in the study.
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