9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN20 Qualitative Methods

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Mixed Methods Building II, C2.01

Towards a holistic understanding

In this paper we discuss our experiences with an explorative, multi-perspective and action-oriented approach for understanding cooperative practice, adapted in the project ?Cooperation for the total benefit of the child? . Our focus of interest in the project is children with special needs attending Norwegian kindergartens. In order to ensure the well-being of these children there is a need for substantial cooperation among the children?s families, their kindergartens, and bodies within different sectors of the welfare system (e.g., educational and medical services). The aim of this project is to address how the relations within cooperative teams are constructed and carried out from the perspectives of the different agents involved. The knowledge generated from the project is further intended to contribute to improving cooperation within the teams as well as for use in developing models of ?best practice?.

The character of the project presupposes an explorative, action-oriented and multi-perspective approach. We follow six cases, each consisting of (1) the parents of the child receiving support, (2) the child?s primary contact person in the kindergarten, (3) the child?s special educator, (4) the coordinator of the team, and/or (5) other relevant agents (e.g., physiotherapist, doctor). In the first phase of the project we conducted individual interviews with the people involved in each case, observed cooperative-team meetings and held focus group interviews with representatives from agencies involved in the cooperation. In the next phase, we arrange two seminars. The first, to which only participants are invited, is intended as an arena for sharing experiences derived from phase one. We regard this seminar as both data collection and communication of results. The next seminar will focus on dissemination of results to a larger audience.

The discussion will concentrate on the following questions: What possibilities lie within a multi-perspective approach to uncover similarities and differences in experiences and understandings? How can a multi-perspective approach be action-oriented? How can these approaches promote development towards ?best practice??