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Childhood Memories of Post-war Merseyside: Exploring the Impact of Memory Sharing Through an Oral History and Reminiscence Work Approach

Wilson, HE (2017) Childhood Memories of Post-war Merseyside: Exploring the Impact of Memory Sharing Through an Oral History and Reminiscence Work Approach. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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This study used an oral history (OH) and reminiscence work (RW) approach to explore childhood memories of Merseyside, England, United Kingdom, in the period following the Second World War. Interviews were conducted with ten volunteers between 60 and 70 years of age from communities across Merseyside, collecting unique reminiscences. The researcher used a qualitative research approach to obtain and analyse the findings. Semi-structured interviews were conducted on a one-to-one basis and findings were analysed thematically according to emergent themes. Firstly, the interview transcripts were analysed to identify the social conditions which impacted on childhood experiences. Then, the researcher created a Memory Tree Model (MTM) and revisited the same participants to focus on the reflective aspect of the reminiscence process itself; thus, each participant was interviewed twice, allowing adequate scope for reflection. The researcher wrote a series of memoir chapters to present and discuss the research findings in a way that captured the essence of childhood and adequately represented the impact of reminiscence. This thesis explores the social conditions of childhood during the post war years in Merseyside and in doing so has prompted the researcher to develop a tool to support the reminiscence process. Overall, the participants found the experience to be a positive one, with therapeutic benefits, even when recalling negative memories. The majority of the participants (n=9) found the Memory Tree Model and reflective reminiscence work interview easier and more supportive than the open-microphone oral history interview. Each of the participants continued to reminisce in the months between the first and second phase of interviews and had started to engage in reminiscence with their families. The results were linked to the research and practice outcomes of a heuristic model of reminiscence to explain the impact that reminiscence had on those who took part. In theorising the use of both an oral history and reminiscence work approach, this thesis informs others working with reminiscences, in better understanding the impact on those who are engaging in this type of research. It also demonstrates an understanding of the relationship between social research and community engagement. The researcher was given the opportunity to disseminate the findings in a public forum via an exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool Life (MLL); this established that both OH and RW can be a positive experience for participants and enrich the wider community. Recommendations for future practice include increasing access to public reminiscence workshops, enabling people of all ages to benefit from its qualities. This would be an enriching practice in society, not only facilitating the process of reminiscing, but also bridging gaps between generations and cultures, building networks and bringing communities closer together. The research contributes to the body of knowledge by providing insight into the social conditions of childhood in post-war Merseyside through a set of unique and candid childhood memories. The researcher achieved this by opting to use a multi-method participatory approach for gathering the research findings; a pictorial tool was created and used to support the participants in this process. Furthermore, a collaborative approach fostered community engagement in the form of an interactive museum event which provided a platform for public engagement and additional memory sharing.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Childhood; Heuristic; Memory; Memory tree; Merseyside; Oral history; Participatory research; Post-war; Reminiscence work; Reminiscing
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Public Health Institute
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2017 08:50
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 15:37
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00006610
Supervisors: Leavey, C and Khatri, R
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/6610
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