Reflections on a Mixed Methods Approach to Researching Immigrant Mothering

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:42
Oral Presentation
Agata LISIAK, Bard College Berlin, Germany
This presentation provides a reflexive account of the methods applied in my research project Immigrant Mothers As Agents of Change (2013-2017). As they play a central role in transmitting cultural capital on a transnational and transgenerational scale (Erel 2010, 2012), immigrant mothers’ regular participation in and exposure to urban diversity – especially to diverse mothering practices and discourses – leads, through social and material remittances, to a transformation of the understandings and performances of motherhood in the sending country. In my project, I inquired specifically into how migrant mothers, coming from Polish cities that are largely homogenous in terms of ethnicity and religion, make sense of and come to terms with the much greater diversity they encounter in the British and German cities, in which they now live (Lisiak 2017; Lisiak and Nowicka 2017). Recognizing the many complexities inherent to immigrants’ encounters with diversity in urban and transnational space and the meanings migrants assign to them, I chose a mixed method approach in order to generate not more, but various kinds of data. The methods I worked with included semi-structured and narrative interviews, participant observation, diaries, as well as creative methods. In my ISA presentation I would like to briefly discuss the advantages and challenges related to each of these methods in the context of my research and focus on the use of drawings in participant-driven image elicitation. I will also present the website https://immigrantmothers.net, which showcases the visual and narrative materials produced through creative collaborations with research participants and demonstrates how their contributions foster research questions and research methods.