Understanding the Context: The Case of Central Australian Aboriginal Health

  • Komla Tsey


Research does not occur in a vacuum. It is important to develop an intellectual understanding of the social context of your research. Social researchers must listen to opinion leaders and synthesise academic literature, but they must also listen to the people they meet: children, the elderly, teenagers, men and women. Understanding the social context of your research requires curiosity; you must use everyday interactions and conversations with people as opportunities to learn. Your reading about history, politics, economics and the culture of a place should be as wide as possible. It is important to get a sense of the power dynamics at play in the dominant narratives. Ask whose voices are being shared and heard and whose are not. Who benefits from the status quo and who does not? How can things be made fairer? The tools and media available to analyse and understand social context of research will differ from place to place and over time. Source material may include journals, newspapers, textbooks, government or industry reports, social media, bulletin boards, conversations, literature reviews and even graffiti. This chapter illustrates my attempts to understand the social context of Central Australian Aboriginal health.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Komla Tsey
    • 1
  1. 1.James Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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