Understanding and Preventing Violence in Homeless Shelters through Collaborative Research: Methodological Insights

Laure Liénard, Emilie Duvivier

Laure Liénard, Ph.D. is a social work lecturer and researcher at Lille Catholic University, Institut Social de Lille. A licensed social worker, her research focuses on European welfare systems, community work and homelessness.

Emilie Duvivier, Ph.D. is head of research and studies at Lille Catholic University, Institut Social de Lille. Her research interests include migratory trajectories, and homelessness. Accepted for publication on December 23rd, 2022.

OBJECTIVES: This paper presents the initial results of a collaborative research project with different groups of social work professionals and homeless people to better reflect together on the daily experience of violence in homeless shelters. METHODS: Based on a qualitative approach, this 24-month research project was carried out in an NGO located in Lille, in the North of France. It is based on collective workshops bringing together three groups of professionals (social workers, managers, and night supervisors) and a group of service users. Several methods (focus group, group analysis method) have been used since the beginning of the process. THEORETICAL BASE: This research is based on the epistemological foundations of pragmatic sociology. OUTCOMES: We will show how this type of research conducted with social actors can participate in the construction of a common knowledge, anchored in their lives, but also support change within social institutions. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: Analysing violence in social institutions based on case studies and reasoning, this research allows us to understand the differences in perception between groups of actors and even within peer groups. This collaborative research, which values the recognition of everyone’s knowledge, lifts the veil on realities that are still not widely shared within the institutions, and facilitates dialogue and the search for collective solutions.

collaborative research, violence, hostels

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