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Yasmin Gunaratnam University of Central Lancashire The Production of Difference in Qualitative Research.

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Presentation on theme: "Yasmin Gunaratnam University of Central Lancashire The Production of Difference in Qualitative Research."— Presentation transcript:

1 Yasmin Gunaratnam University of Central Lancashire The Production of Difference in Qualitative Research

2 Howard Becker Methodology is too important to be left to methodologists.

3 Themes Epistemology (theory of knowledge) - how do we work with racial and ethnic categories in research? How might we know differently? Epistemology (theory of knowledge) - how do we work with racial and ethnic categories in research? How might we know differently? Methodology - how does difference between the researcher & research participant impact upon the research interactions & knowledge that is produced in qualitative research? How do we discern this impact empirically? Methodology - how does difference between the researcher & research participant impact upon the research interactions & knowledge that is produced in qualitative research? How do we discern this impact empirically? Emotions: Difference as a source of anxiety, assumptions about the emotionality of racialised research participants Emotions: Difference as a source of anxiety, assumptions about the emotionality of racialised research participants Politics: - interactional, institutional & social relations Politics: - interactional, institutional & social relations

4 Some Writing … our very concern with naming and with examining race and ethnicity (often in order to uncover oppressive relations of power), always runs the risk of reproducing race and ethnicity as essentialized and deterministic categories that can (re)constitute these very power relations. Gunaratnam, 2003: 32-3

5 The Treacherous Bind While race and ethnicity have been recognised as being socially constructed rather than natural, fixed categories of difference, racial and ethnic identities have real meaning and consequences in everyday life & in research While race and ethnicity have been recognised as being socially constructed rather than natural, fixed categories of difference, racial and ethnic identities have real meaning and consequences in everyday life & in research How can we engage with lived experiences and work against the constraints of racial thinking? How can we engage with lived experiences and work against the constraints of racial thinking?

6 Inter-racial research as a problem Difference as distance Race of interviewer effects (US survey research) Racialized difference between the research participant and interviewer can affect the genuineness and accuracy of what research participants say particularly with regard to racial topics Racialized difference between the research participant and interviewer can affect the genuineness and accuracy of what research participants say particularly with regard to racial topics

7 Race of Interviewer effects - Race of Interviewer effects - Schuman and Converse study (1971) Greatest difference by R of I Least difference by R of I Greatest difference by R of I Least difference by R of I Do you personally feel that you can trust mostHave you ever taken part in any kind violent protest for civil rights? white people, some white people, or none at all? Some leaders want to organize Negroes into gps Do you think you were ever refused a to protect themselves against any violence by job because of being Negro? Whites. Do you think this is worthwhile or not? In your church has money ever been collected at Do you think there are many, some, or Sunday service for the Civil Rights movement?just a few places in the city of Detroit where a Negro could not rent or buy a house because of racial discrimination?

8 Race of Interviewer Effects: What Happens on the Web? Krysan & Couper Inter J of Internet Science 2006, 1 (1), 17-28 Social Presence

9 Krysan & Couper Mere Presence

10 Krysan & Couper - Questions Do you feel you can trust most White people, some White people, or no White people? Do you feel you can trust most Black people, some Black people, or no Black people? On the average, Blacks have worse jobs, income, and housing than White people. Do you think these differences are because most Blacks have less in- born ability to learn? On the average, Blacks have worse jobs, income, and housing than White people. Do you think these differences are because most Blacks just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?

11 Krysan & Couper - Conclusions Findings indicate mixed support for the hypothesis that mere presence may activate negative attitudes, while social presence may lead to censoring or editing or these negative attitudes.

12 Racialised Difference in Qualitative Research Closeness of identity and, in particular shared racial identity is generally presumed to promote effective communication between researcher and subject and, conversely, disparate identity to inhibit it. (Rhodes, Sociology, 1994, 28(2): 547- 58)

13 Ethnic Matching - Assumptions Ethnicity used as methodological capital to access & get closer to Ethnicity used as methodological capital to access & get closer to Reduces inter-subjective distances between the interviewer & the research participant Reduces inter-subjective distances between the interviewer & the research participant Ethnic/cultural/religious/linguistic differences given primacy over other differences (e.g. gender, class, age) Ethnic/cultural/religious/linguistic differences given primacy over other differences (e.g. gender, class, age) Shared language = shared meanings Shared language = shared meanings

14 Papadopoulos & Lees (2002) Developing culturally competent researchers, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37(3): 258-64. A researcher with the same ethnic background as the participant will possess a rich fore understanding (Ashworth, 1986) and an insider/emic view (Leininger, 1991; Kauffman, 1994), will have more favourable access conditions and the co-operation of a large number of people (Hanson, 1994) and a genuine interest in the health and welfare of their community. (p. 261)

15 Ethnic Matching - Critique Need to move from commonality to connectivity Need to move from commonality to connectivity The impact of race and ethnicity on research interactions is not predictable The impact of race and ethnicity on research interactions is not predictable Cannot interpret accounts in relation to one category of difference Cannot interpret accounts in relation to one category of difference Even when there is a shared language social & biographical difference can affect meaning Even when there is a shared language social & biographical difference can affect meaning

16 Twine Racing Research, Researching Race (2001) […] rather than mistrusting a white researcher, racial subalterns in Brazil may be more likely to identify with them. My experiences suggest that some Brazilians of color do not necessarily feel more comfortable discussing the topic of race and racism with those who resemble them racially…Moreover, prestige hierarchies and the valorization of whiteness resulted in some Brazilians of color preferring to be interviewed by my white research partner. (p.16)

17 Reay Fantasies of Feminisms: Egalitarian Fictions & Elitist Realities, Feminism and Psychology, 9(4): 426-30. The trade in contract researchers is an accepted part of both male and female academic empire-building. To become a female professor, feminist or otherwise, often involves buying into a research marketplace and acquiring contract researchers as so many intellectual possessions…there is virtually nothing written on the dilemmas of operating as a feminist in an academic industry underpinned by, and shored up through, the appropriation of other, less powerful womens intellectual labour; where despite the best intentions…hierarchical ways of working remain the norm (1999: 429)

18 A Doubled Practice We need an approach to research that: works both with/and against racial and ethnic categories works both with/and against racial and ethnic categories that is about linking theory to lived experience that is about linking theory to lived experience addresses the relationships between a commitment to anti-racist practice for research participants & the institutional marginalisation of minoritized researchers addresses the relationships between a commitment to anti-racist practice for research participants & the institutional marginalisation of minoritized researchers


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