Sometimes you have to go under water to come up: A poetic, critical realist approach to documenting the voices of homeless immigrant women

Methodological debates concerning feminist research design tend to focus more on the process of data collection than on the process of data representation. Nevertheless, data representation is fraught with difficulties, especially in communicating research findings concerning vulnerable populations to diverse individuals and groups. How do feminist social work researchers represent the voice of the research participants to community and service organizations while simultaneously meeting the expectations of the academic or political institutions soliciting the research? In this article, we discuss how we approached this dilemma with data collected through a research study on immigrant women experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. Guided by feminist methodological principles, we drew on the tenets of critical realist theory, integrating this analysis with poetic inquiry to reconstruct the women’s voices in the representations of research data. We discuss these modalities and provide two case examples to illustrate their application.

Publication Date: 
Published online before print June 25, 2013
Journal Name: 
Qualitative Social Work