Outsiders and learners: Negotiating meaning in comparative European social work research practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper draws on two experiences of undertaking comparative research in England, Sweden and Italy, and offers a discussion of the kinds of dilemmas raised in relation to language and meaning surfaced by these. Its primary focus is to examine the reflexive construction of meaning, both in relation generally to the workings of an international research team and, more specifically, how such construction of meaning impacts on the process of qualitative interviewing across linguistic and cultural boundaries. The article argues that a culture of reflexive research practice is helpful for approaching national differences, to facilitate understanding in internationally mixed research teams and to support and empower participants in research, in second languages and differing cultures. Overall, the paper attempts to advance some tentative ideas that other international researchers may be able to consider and deploy in relation to their own research ambitions.


  • Elizabeth Frost
  • Staffan Hojer
  • Annamaria Campanini
  • Alessandro Sicora
  • Karin Kullberg
External organisations
  • University of the West of England
  • University of Gothenburg
  • University of Milano-Bicocca
  • University of Calabria
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Work
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-480
JournalQualitative Social Work
Issue number4
Early online date2015
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch