What If? The Use of Poetry to Promote Social Justice

Victoria Foster

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper looks at the use of poetry as a social research method and describes the underlying philosophy as well as the practical processes involved in carrying out such an approach. It draws on an ESRC-funded research project which took place at a Sure Start programme in an impoverished town in North West England. Sure Start was a New Labour initiative working with families with young children in disadvantaged areas. The research used poetry as one of several means of working with the community in order to look at the effectiveness of the local programme and to explore people's experiences of parenting in poverty. The paper discusses some of the poems produced during this project and questions the extent to which an arts-based approach to social inquiry can challenge dominant ideologies of oppressed people and provide an alternative discourse. This is particularly important in social work education in terms of addressing pre-conceptions that students may have about those marginalised groups that they are likely to be working with in their future practice as social workers. It concludes that poetic texts can provide insight into the lives of others, and can generate important discussion in the process of their interpretation. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)742-755
    Number of pages13
    JournalSocial Work Education
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


    • Arts-Based Research
    • Poetry
    • Social Work Education
    • Sure Start
    • Working-Class Mothers


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