Negotiating methodological minefields in conducting ethnographic action research

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Negotiating methodological minefields in conducting ethnographic action research

  1. 1. Negotiating Methodological minefields in conductingEthnographic Action ResearchMr. Kennedy Javuru. Media and Communication (Applied Social Sciences) javken@hotmail.com
  2. 2. What is Ethnographic Action Research Combines Ethnography and Action Research• Ethnography: used in understanding culture. Is based on a long-term engagement with the project through participant observation (Tacchi, Slater, & Hearn, 2003) • The researcher embeds in the daily life of the community and participates in the culture being studied. • Retains an analytical position and through reflection, describes and interprets the subject of study• Action Research: involve actions and reflection, theory and practice (Reason and Bradbury, 2001) with constant planning, acting, observing and reflecting on findings. • Permits participation of stake holders. • Reflection-in-action implies that there is no seperation of research and practice, of knowing and doing (D. A. Schon, 1983) • Encourages learning by doing. • It is open to realities on the ground
  3. 3. Action research cycles
  4. 4. Research backgroundTitle of thesis: ‘Loud and clear’. Revisiting Amartya Sen’s Development as freedom in assessing the role of community radio in development in Uganda.• Amartya Sen’s Development as freedom: For people to be developed, they must enjoy five basic freedoms. i.e. a) political freedom b) Economic facilities c) Social opportunities d) Transparency guarantees and e) Protective securities (Sen, 1999)• Research Questions (Main Research question) Can community radio facilitate increases in political freedoms and social opportunities for the people in rural Uganda?
  5. 5. (Secondary questions)• What are the social, political and economic conditions relevant to the role of community radio in rural development in Uganda?• Does the intrinsic level of interactivity and participatory nature of community radio influence its role as a social actor?• What is the nature of the relationship between Mama fm and the community it servesCase study• Mama fm. Mama (Swahili for mother)• Located in Kisaasi in the outskirt of Kampala the capital city of Uganda• Most popular and openly recognised community radio station in Uganda• Formed and managed by a group of female journalists with women and the marginalised in society as its target audience.
  6. 6. Methodology• Qualitative method of data collection (Ethnographic action research, interviews, focus group discussion and document analysis)Why ethnographic action research and has it worked?• Takes a holistic approach looking at the whole social setting, social relationships, understandings and meanings• Gives a better understanding of the role of Mama fm from a local perspective with local knowledge• A clear understanding of the community’s political, social and economic structure and how the radio fits within these parameters.• Through immersion in the field, everything is material (conversations, encounters etc)• Can be combined with other research tools like interviews, focus group discussion and document analysis Field/participant observation and analysisObservations are classified along two major dimensions-the degree to which the researcher
  7. 7. participates in the behaviours under observation, and the degree to which the observation is concealed. Wilmer and Dominick (1994)• Lofland and Lofland (1995) The researcher becomes a participant in and a witness to lives of others.• Field/participant observation have six stages: a) Choosing the research site b) Gaining access c) Sampling d) Collecting data e) Analysing data f) Handling diplomacy and tact Wilmer and Dominick (1994)• Inspires the researcher to respect local knowledge and perspectives• People centered in which respondents are encouraged to share their experiences
  8. 8. Challenges• Maintaining impartiality• Being a stranger in the field site (language barrier and historical differences) Mama fm is located in central Uganda. Luganda is the dominant dialect. I come from northern Uganda and Luo is my dialect.• Contaminated data• Self conflicts Agar (1986) Ethnography is neither subjective nor objective. It is interpretative, mediating two worlds through a third.Semi-structured interviews• Interviews based not only on a clear plan that you keep constantly in mind, but also characterised by a minimum control over respondents’ response.• Building initial rapport with people before moving to more formal interviews• Convenient for talking to respondents who would not tolerate a more formal interview.• Where there is a likelihood of meeting a respondent only once-high level bureaucrats etc
  9. 9. Merits• Total control• Non-standadised• Respondents are free to provide answers in their own words• Exploring people’s opinions, interpretations and interactions• They unveil unexpected information• Allow respondents to show their own volition, creativity and initiative• Knowledge received is contextualDrawbacks• Danger of subjectivity. Rubin and Rubin (2003) ‘Two human beings concept’• The ‘big man syndrome’• Not appropriate if the respondent cannot express themselves well• Sensitivity to respondents’ beliefs, values and experiences• Can produce irrelevant information• Time consuming
  10. 10. Focus Group Discussion• Aka group interviews• Bringing a group of people together to discuss a particular issue• Group is focused about a collective activity• Group members talk freely and spontaneouslyPlusses• Provides valuable spontaneous information in a short space of time• CheapDrawbacks• Not appropriate in discussing personal issues and feelingsDocument analysis• Studying documents published about or related to the subject of study
  11. 11. References• D. A. Schon. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books• Lofland, J. & Lofland, L. H. (1995). Analysing social settings: A guide to qualitative observation and analysis. Belmont: C.A: Wadsworth• Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (Eds). (2001). Handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice. London: Sage• Rubin, H. j., & Rubin, I. S. (2003). Qualitative Interviewing: The art of hearing data. Thousand Oaks: C.A: Sage• Sen, Amartya. (1999). Development as freedom. New York: Alfred Knopf• Tacchi, J., Slater, D., & Hearn, G. (2003). Ethnographic action research: A handbook. New Delhi: UNESCO

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