What can qualitative research contribute to work and family policy?
Call for Papers Date:
Qualitative researchers interested in social policies around work, family and gender face a puzzle. Key initiatives in welfare to work, childcare and child support reforms of recent decades are based as much on persuasive narratives as any hard data or evidence. At the same time, qualitative researchers often face disinterest and resistance from policy makers in these fields, many of whom dismiss qualitative and narrative research as ‘anecdotal’ and ‘subjective’. As qualitative researchers we should ask ourselves what this means: is it about the stories we tell, how we tell them, or something else?
This special issue provides an opportunity to reflect on the kinds of contributions that qualitative research can make to social policy. We welcome articles that develop the conversation about current qualitative policy work, examples of successful policy engagement and areas for development, including but not limited to the following questions:
What kinds of qualitative research can contribute to work and family policy? What specific contributions can qualitative studies make? What are particular examples of the contributions?
Should the kinds of studies being undertaken in the United Kingdom and the United States, including large sample qualitative studies and ethnographic studies, be emulated elsewhere? What can researchers in the United Kingdom and the United States tell us about the contributions associated with these new directions?
What are the most important puzzles that qualitative researchers across the world should be currently addressing? Is there a place for increased comparative study of qualitative studies? What are some innovative examples of comparative qualitative studies?
In a context where research on social policy is overwhelmingly quantitative, how do we justify qualitative research to policy makers and within external grant applications, and evaluation tenders? Are mixed methods the most appropriate approach?
Are there emerging theoretical approaches in the qualitative field that can help us to make more compelling contributions to policy?
Papers that respond to these questions through detailed analysis of one or more empirical examples will be particularly favoured.
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