Saturday, May 7, 2011

From the Editors' desk: Hanson and Hanson on Welfare recipients

As I consider the papers of 9 (1), issues of inter-subjectivity leap to mind. By inter-subjectivity I mean the ways in which we as researchers interact, later I will use the word “commune,” with research subjects. Conventional research training prompts us to treat research subjects as passive, albeit, respected objects of data collection. Action research acknowledges the subjectivity of the research subjects, which in interaction with ourselves, becomes inter-subjective inquiry.  Our engagement as persons first and foremost allows for knowledge to be shared that otherwise might have gotten lost.
Consider: Cindy Hanson and Lori Hanson offer “Unpaid work and social policy: Engaging research with mothers on social assistance.” In the USA we might call it social welfare and be surprised the Canada too is also rationalizing benefits to the poor.  In fact, however, all industrialized countries seem to be doing this – even over the strikes of French workers.  Again, in that theme we see throughout the papers so far, taking an inter-subjective approach better humanizes those who are seen as passive recipients of charity.  The humanization allows a deeper understanding to emerge. We understand better why a work ethic is not so present when a woman may end up with less money when she gives up assistance to take a job, plus then is burdened by having to pay for child care that in most cases will not be the type of child care any of us would wish for our children. The authors remind us also that the concern for health and physical/material security is so much greater for mothers on assistance – a reminder that prompts compassion. Importantly this study also involved the participation of decision makers, so that the findings and insights were translated into positive impact.

Read for yourself:

Hilary Bradbury-Huang, Ph.D.
Editor, ARJ
Oregon Health Sciences University

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