Indigenous studies are of crucial importance to obtain contextual knowledge towards positive and physical transformation in high-risk communities. Direct contact and partnering with marginalised and disadvantaged communities is essential in the scientific process. The focus of this qualitative study was to explore with mothers of a particular high-risk community the resources and needs of their community by means of participatory action research towards transformation as a process of empowerment. In alignment with a Community Psychology perspective, we used the ecological model to obtain a better understanding of the complexity of factors associated with the functioning of mothers and their children in a high-risk community. Community Psychology endorses the praxis of methods/techniques associated with participatory action research. Contextual data were collected via a multimethod participatory approach: a photovoice technique where mothers provided information about the external assets/resources and the needs of the various areas of their community (external environment) and a retrospective timeline exercise where mothers provided information about their internal environment. Thematic analysis of the collected data was conducted by means of inductive and deductive approaches. Photovoice findings (inductive approach) showed mothers’ appreciation for community resources in their functioning as mothers in this high-risk community, but they also emphasised the serious deficits and dangers of this context. The findings directed by a deductive approach indicated the influential community resources of mothers’ social and physical environment within this high-risk setting. The findings confirmed the significance of contextualisation in the research process by incorporating the mothers’ active involvement as co-researchers as primary practice for social transformation. Recommendations emphasise that contextual information should be used progressively via the use of participatory action methods to optimise the research process as partnership in establishing authentic indigenous South African studies.
Keywords: community psychology; high-risk community; mothers; participatory action research; photovoice; retrospective timeline