On the Blog: We asked Christine Streeter to discuss her experience being a member of our team!

By: Christine Streeter, PhD Candidate, School of Social Work, Carleton University 
In late 2018 I joined the Age-Friendly project as a second-year PhD social work and political economy student.  My interest in care work research had me feeling both excited and intimidated when I first joined such a large project of esteemed international scholars in the field and whose research I’ve read very intimately. I joined this project as it aligned with my interests in approaching my work with a feminist political economist lens and as someone curious to learn more about critical ethnographic methods. So, I kept my anxieties in my back pocket and entered into fieldwork with a group of dedicated and brilliant researchers. 
Since joining the project, I was fortunate enough to participate in two different site studies, one in Toronto and the other in Ottawa. During this time, the team’s inclusive learning approach allowed me to feel supported in the field.  I never felt alone as I was always included in discussions and was accompanied with a senior researcher as a mentor. Throughout these site studies, I learned so much from the research team – both the International researchers and the other graduate and undergraduate students’ part of the project. I also learned from the participants we were able to chat with – older adults, managers, workers, and volunteers. I learned how inequalities and differences, such as race, gender, ability, and sexuality, play out in older adults’ lived experiences and policy assumptions. 
During and in-between site studies, I participated in workshops, such as building interviewing, field note writing, and analysis skills. We further continued critical and engaging conversations about age-friendliness and what we learned in the site studies through theme groups and the project’s seminar series. These processes have provided me with safe learning spaces to collaborate with colleagues on pieces regarding the current funding structures in the non-profit sector and how they impact working conditions and conditions of care for older adults. This experience has also provided the opportunity to collaborate with community partners like CUPE and Egale on a project concerning Public Services that Work for LGBTQ2+ Older Adults and LGBTQ2+ Workers in Canada.
Working in a team has provided a space to bounce ideas off each other, examine approaches and methods critically and carefully, and consider multiple perspectives, professional expertise, and experiences. Through learning both in theory and practice, I continue to grow my confidence in employing my research skills. Additionally, I have gained firsthand insights to consider how I intend to use ethnographic methods and a feminist political economy approach in my dissertation research.
My dissertation research will be using a slice of the existing data set from Ottawa site visit, collected in June 2019, including the interviews with the managers, workers, and volunteers, field notes of work observation and organizational and policy background. This existing data will provide the base to build my original data set, to be collected this spring 2021. My research asks: How have NPSS sector workers’, who serve older adults, material and affective conditions of work changed or shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21? How are workers and the organizations in which they work, responding, adapting and/or resisting these changes and shifts? And what can these experiences tell us about understanding the structure of feelings in work, economy, and society?  I hope my research will positively contribute to the Age-Friendly project. 
Although I am completing my thesis research alone, it feels far from it – as this community has provided me with crucial perspectives, critical questions, and unwavering support in my time as a PhD candidate, early career researcher and scholar.  I am eager and committed to continue learning from and working with the team to enhance the effectiveness of age-friendly practices for all older adults and those who work in the care sector. 

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