Engaging participants in qualitative research: methodological reflections on studying active older lives in Scotland and Australia

Emmanuelle Tulle*, Catherine Palmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Deliberations on methodology in qualitative research have typically offered guidance for increasing involvement by subjects or focus on the reasons why people choose not to take part in research. This paper provides a different contribution to advancing knowledge and practice in qualitative methodologies. It examines the reasons why people choose to participate in qualitative research. Drawing together our reflections on three research projects with older athletes in Australia and Scotland, the paper examines: the importance of shared insider experience and physical capital by the researchers and participants alike, participant empowerment and enthusiasm to share their passion as older athletes and; the opportunity for the research to counter perceptions of invisibility – of leisure interests, older people and active older women more particularly as key factors in engaging participants in the research process. Specifically, we link the sociological concept of capital as developed by Bourdieu (1978; 1984) and Goffman’s (1961) notion of “the gambit” to qualitative studies in sport, health and leisure. As a sociological reflection on both the design and methods of qualitative research and the subjective experiences of our participants, the research has wider significance and application to critical qualitative methodologies more broadly and investigations of older people’s leisure experiences more specifically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)832-846
Number of pages15
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • qualitative research
  • social change
  • physical capital
  • cultural capital
  • recruitment strategies

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