Social research is a process that connects theory and practice, being both scientifically grounded and practically oriented. It makes practice research-informed and uses the practice as the material for the immediate improvement of existing theories. In the social research that I have done, I was involved in particular social events, being an actor, and, at the same time, an analyst. I could evaluate the response to my action and collect supportive data that would allow me further to improve the effectiveness of my activities. In this paper, I will describe the social research I have conducted, providing a theoretical base that has been previously formulated, and explaining the research methods and outcomes.
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The topic I have chosen for the social study was domestic violence. As a survivor, I decided to contribute to mitigating this problem by raising public awareness about it. After connecting with the coordinators of the local Domestic Violence Shelter, I developed a program consisting of several public talks that would be given by me for different audiences. I formulated the following research question: “What are the most effective methods of raising awareness and bringing public attention to the problem of domestic violence?” During the meetings, I would explore the response of the audience to the narrative about my domestic violence experience. However, it was planned that the forms of presentation of my story would be different; during these meetings, I could analyze the difference in their effect on the public, which could be a base for theorizing and further improving my practice.
Description of a Practice Intervention
The practice implied the conducting of several meetings with different social groups, where I would give a talk describing my experience as a survivor of an act of domestic violence. One part of the project has already been done; another part will be further implemented. Among the meetings I took part in were public speeches in front of several groups of teenagers and young adults; the significant part of the project was the talk to a hundred physicians. The next event planned for the future is meeting with high school students and conducting this in the form of a play.
According to the chosen topic and research question, the type of research and implied methodology was defined as:
- applied (as the results were of practical importance);
- social impact research study (as it would evaluate the effectiveness of social strategies);
- descriptive (as it would explore details of overall discovered field);
- longitudinal (done as a set of events at a different time with different social groups);
- implying methods of surveys with the following content analysis.
Before engaging in practical actions, I got acquainted with the scientific literature on this topic that helped me to understand the theoretical perspective of my research. I found that a wide range of existing sources dedicated to domestic violence investigates the methods of improving the practice of social workers in a traditional form, such as counseling and providing psychological support to the victims. Fewer sources explore the issue of raising awareness and its methods. For example, Crabtree-Nelson et al. (2016) emphasize ‘the unique position of social work researchers, educators, and practitioners to educate current students and veteran social workers” (p. 359). Sullivan (2018) presents a strategy of working with the survivors, making a conceptual model of maintaining their well-being. Among the methods, he described “promoting justice,” which means public education in this regard (Sullivan, 2018, p. 127). The works of this kind provide the overall education about the subject and what has been done so far.
As I planned to involve different techniques of interaction with the audience, I studied several sources dedicated to non-traditional methods of public education. Muralidharan and Kim (2019) describe the method of literature narrative dedicated to the problem of domestic violence, which could affect public minds. As they argue, “narratives can elicit empathy by enabling the reader to connect with the characters in the story, identify with them, and virtually experience the situation through their eyes” (Muralidharan & Kim 2019, p. 3). Interesting research has been done by Yue et al. (2019), where they examined the effect of television dramas intentionally produced to raise public awareness about domestic violence. In their article, they formulate the methods of evaluating the effectiveness of such “entertainment-education” (Yue, et al. 2019, p. 30). Finally, Divakar et al. (2019) discuss the necessity of the education of health professionals since the World Health Organization statistics demonstrate that “about 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime” (World Health Organization, 2017, para. 2). The latter source was the reason for me to choose a large group of physicians as the audience for my narrative.
My justification for the use of a complex theoretical perspective originates from the concept of the long-term success of evidence-based practices. Public talks and other forms of interactions required me to assess the effectiveness of different interaction methods, which is why I had to conduct in-depth theoretical research. I have discovered that visual storytelling is one of the most effective ways of public education and decided to formulate my domestic violence awareness initiatives using the methods of emotional narration. Thus, I have created a play to introduce the realities of domestic abuse to high school students. The theoretical approach allowed me to familiarize myself with scientific findings of practical importance, which, in turn, helped me develop an ‘entertainment-education’ project.
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The Process of Discovering Evidence
During my research, surveys distributed to the participants of the meetings were the main source of data. The questions contained in them were related to the story discussed by me, examining their emotional response to it. Part of the questions was related to their general familiarity with the subject of domestic violence, which allowed me to analyze drawbacks in public awareness about it and further design my conversations accordingly.
The research that has been done provided an opportunity to experience social intervention consciously, implying a theoretical foundation. In addition, the data that has been collected enabled me to improve my theoretical knowledge about the subject. Along with it, the results of the research could serve as an immediate ding for action, modifying the methods of intervention and achieving a high level of effectiveness.
Crabtree-Nelson, S., Grossman, S. F., & Lundy, M. (2016). A call to action: domestic violence education in social work. Social Work, 61(4), 359–362. Web.
Divakar, U., Nazeha, N., Posadzki, P., Jarbrink, K., Bajpai, R., Ho, A. H. Y., Campbell, J, Feder, G., & Car, J. (2019). Digital education of health professionals on the management of domestic violence: Systematic review and meta-analysis by the digital health education collaboration. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(5). Web.
Muralidharan, S., & Kim, E. (2019). Can empathy offset low bystander efficacy? Effectiveness of domestic violence prevention narratives in India. Health Communication, 1–10. Web.
Sullivan, C. M. (2018). Understanding how domestic violence support services promote survivor well-being: A conceptual model. Journal of Family Violence, 33, 123–131. Web.
World Health Organization. (2017). Violence against women. Web.
Yue. Z., Wang, H., & Singhal, A. (2019). Using television drama as entertainment-education to tackle domestic violence in China. The Journal of Development Communication, 30(1), 30 44. Web.