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Sage Research Methods
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ABSTRACT – This case study outlines the methodology (action research) and tools – (1) mobile phone video diaries and (2) focus groups – that we used to explore representations of disadvantaged Australian social housing tenants as presented through the medium of television. The academic researchers worked with disadvantaged citizens living in social housing acting as co-researchers for the project. The study focused on the Australian ‘comedy’ television series ‘Housos’, which aired in 2011. The show depicted the lifestyles of fictional tenant characters on an imaginary social housing estate. Tenants were portrayed as feckless and antisocial individuals who engage in a range of irresponsible and sometimes criminal behaviour in order to avoid work and whose family and other relationships were dysfunctional. Soon after the programme commenced, social housing tenants approached us to conduct a research project on the programme. We conducted an action research project with tenants over the 9-week first season of the show with residents in New South Wales and South Australia. Each week, participants watched the current episode and responded to key research themes and questions in a creative medium of their choice, such as mobile phone video diary recordings.