The need for and challenges of culturally sensitive qualitative research

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The need for and challenges of culturally sensitive qualitative research. Mary Maynard University of York. Overview. Thinking about cross-cultural research: 4 personal reasons for dwelling on issues of cultural sensitivity The nature of culturally sensitive and cross-cultural research - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Social Science Matters: Issues about Qualitative Research In a Globalizing World

The need for and challenges of culturally sensitive qualitative researchMary MaynardUniversity of YorkThinking about cross-cultural research: 4 personal reasons for dwelling on issues of cultural sensitivityThe nature of culturally sensitive and cross-cultural researchIssues for qualitative studiesConclusionsOverview1. Collaborative research on gender and ageing in the UK which included minority ethnic groupsSupervising international students who undertake qualitative research at homeGlobalization and social work becoming an international professionThe need to think about research in relation to comparative and international issuesReasonsMain research question: how do older women understand and evaluate their quality of life and how might this quality be improved or extended?Empowerment and Disempowerment: a Comparative Study of African- Caribbean, Asian and White British Women in their Third AgeThe only unproblematic words here are those in lower caseThe Initial PromptEmpowerment and Disempowerment as dualisticDefinition of ethnicitySocial construction of old ageIssues of able-bodiednessRecent attempts at providing more positive models of ageing: managing ageing and resisting stereotypesActive ageing = successful ageing: consumer society, moral responsibility for a youthful body, identity and social life

The Initial PromptBut concept of successful ageing is laden with western liberal assumptions where success is linked to detachment from others and self-relianceAssociated with autonomy, independence, self- empowerment and agencyBut those women who do not/cannot act in this way do not necessarily feel disempowered or disengagedIdeas about successful ageing and quality of life cannot be applied across cultures. Saturated with values and meaningsThe Initial PromptWhat are the issues when conducting cross-cultural research at home?What is home and who is defining the perspectives to which this gives rise?Are there differences between cross-cultural research in one country and that which takes place internationally or comparatively?Do qualitative research methods travel?How far are our assumptions affected by western liberal views?

The QuestionsFocus on quantitative approach, surveys, statistics and government dataOften poorly defined and terms used interchangeablySome acceptance of qualitative research but it needs to be promotedCross-cultural, International and Comparative ResearchGives people a voice, learns about and from their experiences, listens to personal narratives and uses participants own language. In order to understand peoples behaviour we need to understand the meanings and interpretations they give to this behaviour. A particularly useful approach to social work researchQualitative Cross-cultural ResearchWriting about what she terms positivistic research, Liamputtong says; It is impossible to measure people, or to generalise about people, if the researcher wishes to understand people within the context of their own society and culture...Social scientists have a moral obligation to do something to improve the lives of many marginalised people in different cultures and it is more likely that a qualitative approach will allow us to accomplish this task (2010).Qualitative Cross-cultural ResearchThere is a history of qualitative work in areas such as development studies and anthropology but paucity of critical engagement with research issuesIn the past ethnographers have been seen as taking and using peoples accounts for their own purposes and exploiting their generosityAssumption that qualitative research can be unproblematically transported cross-culturally. Not much on culturally sensitive methodologiesQualitative Cross-cultural ResearchQualitative research texts tend not to discuss cross-cultural or comparative workThis is not seen as part of the mainstream methodology agendaShared lessons to be learnt methodologicallyDanger of uncritically imposing a methodological canonSignificance of de-colonizing research and methodologies (Mutua and Swadener, 2004; Smith 1999; Denzin et al. 2008)

Qualitative Cross-cultural ResearchAssumptions containing Eurocentric philosophies and paradigmsRelates to: established minority ethnic groups; indigenous people; recent arrival of those with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds as immigrants, asylum seekers or refugees; international research, which may or may not have a comparative dimensionPranee Liamputtong (2008 and 2010)

Qualitative Cross-Cultural ResearchCulturally sensitive approach involves treating cultural knowledge in its own right. Can be used as a standpoint for framing the researchA decolonizing approach against that which can be seen as a colonizing constructThey came, they saw, they named, they claimed the methodology of imperialism

IssuesTillmans (2006) culturally sensitive approach:Culturally congruent research methodsCulturally specific knowledgeCultural resistance to theoretical dominanceCulturally sensitive data interpretationCulturally informed theory and practiceIssuesDifferent kinds of qualitative methods work differently in different situationsWhat is meant by work here may have a cultural dimension as does good praciceIssues of access and gatekeeper involvementInformed consent: signing; literacy; confidentiality; gender; individual v collective. Trust and rapport rather than a mechanistic actResearch Method IssuesReciprocity: money; information; actionPlace of interviewsInsider/outsider issues and powerGender, class, age, statusLanguage and communication: whether the researcher is an indigenous speaker; what can/cannot be discussed/researched; translator or interpreter involvement; translation issuesWriting cross-cultural research

Research Method IssuesAt least three ways in which this might be possible on an individual basis:Personal empowerment through participationTherapeutic effect of reflecting on an re-evaluating their experienceSome kind of transformation of situation for self and/or groupNot immediate but later enhancing of othersEffect on researcher

Can this be Empowering? Should it be Empowering?Difficult to define and to find an alternativeNot just about providing services or agencyDifferent kinds. Access to resources alone may not translate into empowerment but is related to the perception of their valueCan differ according to the individual and changes over times a processRelational concepts not a definitive stateEmpowerment and DisempowermentCritical of connotations of autonomy and self-help. Power-sharing. 4 kinds to which research might aspire Power over (top down )Power to (advocacy/group leadership)Power with (collective activity)Power from within (sense of self, identity, belonging)

Jo Rowlands (1998) Model


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