Living on the Edge: Life on the Social Margins in Atlantic Canada
A society's treatment of its most vulnerable members is the touchstone of its measure as a truly civilized society.
Canada Research Chair Dr. Deborah van den Hoonaard is involved in research that sheds valuable light on how Canada - in particular Atlantic Canada - measures up to this maxim. She is exploring the life experiences of members of vulnerable groups in Atlantic Canada, specifically older widows and widowers, and immigrants of non-European descent.
What makes van den Hoonard's approach to research stand out is her use of qualitative research methods to explore the pressing problems of marginal groups. This kind of research encourages members of marginal groups to tell their own story in their own way. Thus it is their concerns that drive the interviews and field research, not those of the researcher. In the process, the researcher gains a comprehensive understanding of the people as full human beings who have an important understanding of their own lives and place in the community.
Van den Hoonaard is Director of the Atlantic Centre for Qualitative Research and Analysis, which draws researchers from many disciplines and universities interested in developing research expertise in qualitative analysis - a much under-used approach for developing knowledge and social policy.