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Theoretical and methodological possibilities and
challenges for researching encounters with
Chinese people/communities: An...
Preview
1. The researcher’s (subjective) positioning
2. The problem with “isms”: What theoretical
possibilities emerge?
Eu...
1. The researcher’s (subjective)
positioning
• Bracketing my own experience in the research
process
• Providing autobiogra...
• “Had our concepts and
categories of analysis
been wrong? Had we
somehow failed to see
the essence of China
because of ou...
2. Getting started!
The problem with “isms”:
What theoretical possibilities emerge?
- Eurocentrism and Asiacentrism
• What...
Synthesising two dualisms:
Eurocentrism and Asiacentrism
• Can “Western” theories of communication inform
non-Western (int...
Five biases of Eurocentric theory
1. Individuality and Independence Bias
• Communication is often
an expression of unique
...
2. Ego-Centeredness and Self-Enhancement Bias
• Communication is a
process in which we
enhance our self-
esteem and protec...
3. Reason and Rationality Bias
Eurocentric rhetorical
theories underscore
reason and rationality
(of speaking clearly and
...
4. Rights and Freedom Bias
• Communication is
conceptualized as a
means of gaining our
individual freedom and
liberating o...
5. Pragmatism and Materialism Bias
Morality and harmony
are sometimes
marginalized by
pragmatic and
materialistic inclinat...
Theoretical diversity in Eurocentric
scholarship
• Feminism – the salience of interdependence and
the profundity of feelin...
Conclusion
The need to move beyond dualistic thinking and
theorising:
• divergence in convergence /convergence in
divergen...
3. In search of something more
universal?
My approach…
• Social constructionism
• Phenomenology
• Verstehen
• Identity
Social constructionism
How individuals
experience the world
in their daily (socially
constructed)
interactions and
communi...
Phenomenology
– A self-conscious
examination of lived
experience (through
engagement with
others)
– The multiple realities...
Verstehen
–how the researcher
comes to know and
understand the
actor’s own
perspective
–a process of moving
into the mind ...
Identity
– Social class, history,
family, education,
geography, memory,
gender, beliefs/values,
ethnicity, politics,
natio...
4. My researcher experiences in
researching Chinese students’ IC/learning
Ethnography/in the field
• The sample
• Engageme...
5. The reflexive researcher
(Holmes, 2014)
• … a multifaceted, complex, and ongoing
dialogical process, which is continual...
• This knowledge is incomplete, implicit and tacit:
Our subjects always know more than they can tell us,
usually see more ...
Researcher questions
• How do I, as a researcher, reflexively engage with
the research and participants?
• How do particip...
My researcher positioning
My position as a New Zealand researcher meant that the data
interpretation reflected to some deg...
• AS: It’s just good to have a meeting time, lecturer,
like you.
• ME: I’m a student.
• AS: No, you are lecturer before, s...
Relationship building
• Reciprocal power
relationship
– I was intruding on their
lifeworlds; I was bound
to ppts to make m...
Building trust
I don’t think there are some very […] effect or
difference in our culture, but I think it’s try that I
feel...
Participants’ concerns about data interpretation
I’m quite interested in what you are thinking and
doing and also I am…I w...
6. Researching multilingually
(language as a resource in the research process)
http://researchingmultilingually.com/
“the ...
Researching multilingually….
Invites considerations about language(s) in:
• initial research design
• the literature revie...
Researching multilingually involves:
(i) relationships
(ii) multilingual/intercultural spaces
(iii) Researcher intentional...
(i) relationships
• (Un)shared relationships among supervisors,
researcher(s), participants, translators/transcribers,
exa...
(ii) multilingual/intercultural spaces
• The research phenomena under investigation
– IC experiences of Chinese students
•...
(iii) intentionality/purposefulness
(a 3-step process)
• triggering realisation
– “Can I do that?” “Am I allowed to do tha...
My attempts at RM-ly
• Challenges for ppts in working in English?
• Speaking in interviews required ppts to use
complex co...
Assymetrical linguistic competence
(Ganassin & Holmes, 2013)
(from my data)
I’m quite [a] slow thinker, I mean, I need tim...
Conclusions to the study
• Participants’ motivations changed
• Dual reflexivity
– participants demonstrated sense making, ...
…and the participants’ conclusions…
It makes me think whether I value coming
here [to this study] has had any impact on
my...
Through this interview I can clear my mind
and I’m thinking, “Why I’m different from
the other people, and why I come here...
Where to next?
Intercultural encounters
(a methodology for understanding
intercultural communication)
Intercultural encounters…
• intercultural communication between two or
more people with shared and unshared realities
(e.g...
Thank you
Prue Holmes
p.m.holmes@durham.ac.uk
Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities
Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities
Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities
Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities
Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities
Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities
Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities
Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities
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Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities

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Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities

  1. 1. Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching encounters with Chinese people/communities: An auto- biographical non-Chinese researcher perspective Intercultural communication between China and the rest of the world: Beyond (reverse) essentialism and culturalism? University of Helsinki, 5-6 June 2014 Dr Prue Holmes Durham University, UK
  2. 2. Preview 1. The researcher’s (subjective) positioning 2. The problem with “isms”: What theoretical possibilities emerge? Eurocentrism; Asiacentrism 3. In search of something more universal? Social constructionism, Phenomenology, Identity 4. My researcher experiences in researching Chinese students’ IC/learning 5. The reflexive researcher 6. Researching multilingually 7. Conclusions and where to next
  3. 3. 1. The researcher’s (subjective) positioning • Bracketing my own experience in the research process • Providing autobiographical or personal information that serves to establish and assert authority (Fine, Weis, Weseen, & Wong, 2000)
  4. 4. • “Had our concepts and categories of analysis been wrong? Had we somehow failed to see the essence of China because of our Western outlook? (p. viii) (First published 1966; preface to second edition, 1971)
  5. 5. 2. Getting started! The problem with “isms”: What theoretical possibilities emerge? - Eurocentrism and Asiacentrism • What might a synthesis offer?
  6. 6. Synthesising two dualisms: Eurocentrism and Asiacentrism • Can “Western” theories of communication inform non-Western (intercultural) communication experiences, and the contexts in which they occur? • How can Eurocentric traditions be informed and enriched by Asiacentric visions? • “What can human beings learn about the nature and ideal of communication from all sentient beings and their ‘live-and-let-live’ encounters?” (Miike, 2007, p. 227)
  7. 7. Five biases of Eurocentric theory 1. Individuality and Independence Bias • Communication is often an expression of unique individuality, a demonstration of independence. • Communication is a process in which we remind ourselves of the interdependence and interrelatedness of the universe.
  8. 8. 2. Ego-Centeredness and Self-Enhancement Bias • Communication is a process in which we enhance our self- esteem and protect our self-interest. • Communication is a process in which we reduce our selfishness and egocentrism. • It fosters our sense of connection and cooperation from the interpersonal level to the cosmological level.
  9. 9. 3. Reason and Rationality Bias Eurocentric rhetorical theories underscore reason and rationality (of speaking clearly and convincingly). Communication is a process in which we feel the joy and suffering of all sentient beings (a focus on emotion and listening “renqing”).
  10. 10. 4. Rights and Freedom Bias • Communication is conceptualized as a means of gaining our individual freedom and liberating ourselves from oppression. • Rights and liberty are complemented by responsibility and obligation. • Communication is a process in which we receive and return our debts to all sentient beings.
  11. 11. 5. Pragmatism and Materialism Bias Morality and harmony are sometimes marginalized by pragmatic and materialistic inclinations. Communication is a process in which we moralize and harmonize the universe.
  12. 12. Theoretical diversity in Eurocentric scholarship • Feminism – the salience of interdependence and the profundity of feeling. • Dialogical communication – empathy and other directedness. • Communication ethics – the importance of civility and morality. • Environmental and spiritual communication – ecological harmony and spiritual liberation. • Philosophy –capabilities; cosmopolitan citizenship.
  13. 13. Conclusion The need to move beyond dualistic thinking and theorising: • divergence in convergence /convergence in divergence (within and across Eastern and Western traditions) • local community /the global society • provincial specificity/universal applicability • local resonance/global significance
  14. 14. 3. In search of something more universal? My approach… • Social constructionism • Phenomenology • Verstehen • Identity
  15. 15. Social constructionism How individuals experience the world in their daily (socially constructed) interactions and communication with others (Berger & Luckmann, 1966)
  16. 16. Phenomenology – A self-conscious examination of lived experience (through engagement with others) – The multiple realities and identities that individuals construct and inhabit “…the world of everyday life [that] is the scene and also the object of our actions and interactions.” (Schutz, 1973, p. 209)
  17. 17. Verstehen –how the researcher comes to know and understand the actor’s own perspective –a process of moving into the mind of the other through empathy
  18. 18. Identity – Social class, history, family, education, geography, memory, gender, beliefs/values, ethnicity, politics, nation-state, other ability, family role, profession, accent, race • “The very process of identification through which we project ourselves into our cultural identities, has become more open-ended, variable, and problematic. Within us, we have contradictory identities pulling in different directions, so that our identifications are continuously being shifted about.” (Hall, 2006: 251)
  19. 19. 4. My researcher experiences in researching Chinese students’ IC/learning Ethnography/in the field • The sample • Engagement in the field (over 18 months) • Building trust, building friendship • Interviews • Fieldwork (observation—in the classroom??, in the field) – “thick description” (Geertz, 1973) – “methodological assemblage” (Najar, 2014) • Data analysis (Nvivo) • Validity/reliability => transferability
  20. 20. 5. The reflexive researcher (Holmes, 2014) • … a multifaceted, complex, and ongoing dialogical process, which is continually evolving (Byrd Clark & Dervin, 2014) • A two-way process: – Profoundly affecting researchers’ sense of the world and themselves (Canagarajah, 1999) – Participants’ understanding of their life world and their place in it.
  21. 21. • This knowledge is incomplete, implicit and tacit: Our subjects always know more than they can tell us, usually see more than they allow us to see; likewise, we often know far more than we can articulate.... [T]he key issue is not to capture the informant’s voice, but to elucidate the experience that is implicated by the subjects in the context of their activities as they perform them, and as they are understood by the ethnographer. (Altheide & Johnson, 2011, p. 592)
  22. 22. Researcher questions • How do I, as a researcher, reflexively engage with the research and participants? • How do participants reflexively engage in the research (i.e., how do they (re)construct and (re)negotiate their relationship with the researcher and research focus as a result of the research experience? • What ethical and relational issues emerge between researcher and participants in the spaces of the research?
  23. 23. My researcher positioning My position as a New Zealand researcher meant that the data interpretation reflected to some degree the predispositions and parameters of a Western research tradition, as well as my knowledge of the research domain. As a doctoral student, a former teaching assistant in the school, an older student, and the occupant of an office with a computer, I may have been perceived by the participants as holding a position of power. On the other hand, developing an empathy with the graduate student participants, at least, was facilitated by commonalities in our life experiences. (Holmes, 2005: 296)
  24. 24. • AS: It’s just good to have a meeting time, lecturer, like you. • ME: I’m a student. • AS: No, you are lecturer before, so it’s a good experience I think [for her to communicate with me, a “lecturer”]. . . . As I told you, I do well in this research and you try to look after all the research participants very well I think. Contact very well, and especially the dinner [I invited a group of them to my house], is unforgettable. (AS, female undergraduate participant)
  25. 25. Relationship building • Reciprocal power relationship – I was intruding on their lifeworlds; I was bound to ppts to make my research happen. – They were feeling their way with me. • => The Godmother! • WK “Don’t take much notice of what I said in the first six months.” • And later “Initial data might not be very accurate because we were . . . self- conscious, getting the right answers for you.” • KZ “The more we talk, the more I can know your personality…so I know you will not do some harm to me and so I can trust you.”
  26. 26. Building trust I don’t think there are some very […] effect or difference in our culture, but I think it’s try that I feel much better and better when I communicate with you. Yeah, I mean, much more comfortable. When I first talk with you, probably because of my language problem, probably we don’t know each other, you know, but today you can understand, get a far insight of my thought. You understand me now, to some extent. It’s getting better and better. (LZ)
  27. 27. Participants’ concerns about data interpretation I’m quite interested in what you are thinking and doing and also I am…I want to give you some help . . . because, you know, the culture is very complicated thing. . . . Although you stayed in China or in Hong Kong for some, for a few years, but maybe I think you’re not very well understand. You’re not well understand about the culture in China, but I think the understanding of the culture is quite important in your research. So I think if I know what you are thinking and you are doing, maybe something I know, maybe you are not right, so I can tell you.(KZ )
  28. 28. 6. Researching multilingually (language as a resource in the research process) http://researchingmultilingually.com/ “the use of more than one language in the research process and its dissemination” • Cf. researching multilingualism • Cf. Researching monolingually
  29. 29. Researching multilingually…. Invites considerations about language(s) in: • initial research design • the literature review • consent procedures • data generation, recording & transcription, analysis • reporting/writing up • institutional policies => language choices, • interpretation and translation practices • the language politics of representation and dissemination.
  30. 30. Researching multilingually involves: (i) relationships (ii) multilingual/intercultural spaces (iii) Researcher intentionality /purposefulness Holmes, P., Fay, R., Andrews, J., & Attia, M. (2013)
  31. 31. (i) relationships • (Un)shared relationships among supervisors, researcher(s), participants, translators/transcribers, examiners, funders, publishers • Negotiating trust, ethics, power and face • Who speaks for whom, and how, when, and where? (Krog, 2011) • Identity (re)construction and (re)negotiation – Avowal – the identity I ascribe to myself – Ascription – the identity others ascribe to me (Collier, 2005) (e.g., Ganassin & Holmes, 2013)
  32. 32. (ii) multilingual/intercultural spaces • The research phenomena under investigation – IC experiences of Chinese students • the research context – the classroom, social spaces on campus and in community • The research resources – languages spoken by researcher and researched • The representational possibilities – writing up; publishing
  33. 33. (iii) intentionality/purposefulness (a 3-step process) • triggering realisation – “Can I do that?” “Am I allowed to do that?” • developing awareness • informed thinking and practice
  34. 34. My attempts at RM-ly • Challenges for ppts in working in English? • Speaking in interviews required ppts to use complex cognitive and affective processes in English. • What was their experience of using English (in NZ, with me)? Cf. their own languages/dialects? • Usefulness of focus groups? (see Ganassin & Holmes, 2013; Hesse-Biber, 2012)
  35. 35. Assymetrical linguistic competence (Ganassin & Holmes, 2013) (from my data) I’m quite [a] slow thinker, I mean, I need time to think of the question. If interview straight away the question, I sometimes, when I, the answer that I give, [I] have to justify or change later when I think more about it. Or I might have something to add. (AS) I don’t like to have interview because I feel uncomfortable, you know, because I have to speak English. … Sometime we have interview, I have, I don’t understand. I think that difficult question also good for me, to think about it. (M) This question is quite abstract now! (YR)
  36. 36. Conclusions to the study • Participants’ motivations changed • Dual reflexivity – participants demonstrated sense making, agency , power – researcher responsibility (for well-being , protection , ethics of reporting ) • (RM-ly praxis) • Tension between researcher values and multiple meanings the participants ascribe to the research focus and process
  37. 37. …and the participants’ conclusions… It makes me think whether I value coming here [to this study] has had any impact on my life or not. . . . Initially, [it was] just like [an] obligation because I agreed, but now I feel it’s a contribution, it is a sort of pleasure, no[t] to say it’s a pleasure, but it’s good. I don’t mind, I like it. (WK) …and…
  38. 38. Through this interview I can clear my mind and I’m thinking, “Why I’m different from the other people, and why I come here?” and I can explain to you and I can also explain to myself as well. . . I can show my idea. I get feedback about my idea from another person. That’s what I like. (LJ)
  39. 39. Where to next? Intercultural encounters (a methodology for understanding intercultural communication)
  40. 40. Intercultural encounters… • intercultural communication between two or more people with shared and unshared realities (e.g., linguistic, religious, national, ethnic, gender, etc., etc.) PEER model of intercultural interaction • Prepare, Engage, Evaluate, Reflect (Holmes & O’Neil, 2010; 2012) Synthesising Eurocentrism and Asiacentrism • something more universal? social constructionism, phenomenology, identity • blending Asiacentrism Interdependence, relationality, circularity
  41. 41. Thank you Prue Holmes p.m.holmes@durham.ac.uk

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