Using conflicting perspectives- dilema!

23-Aug-10, 07:00
Avatar for Sufirahasia
posted about 10 years ago
In conducting research on attitudes to 'tradition' and 'cultural change', I gave the impression (by no means intentionally) to those I interviewed that their input would allow their voice to be represented. However, in writing up my research paper I cannot avoid critiquing some aspects of their position despite 'justifying' others. I am bound to cause offence, upset and a sense of betrayal. Is this an ethical thing? What should I do? How do I strike a ballance? I don't want them to think I am like a journalist hunting for a story and heartless or disrespectful to their perception of their culture and society, but the data and concerns emerging from the research also need to be addressed. Any advice welcome.
23-Aug-10, 12:46
Avatar for queerface VIP
posted about 10 years ago

When you approached your gate-keepers did you tell them how their contributions would be used? I have had the exact same problem -asking people their opinions about things only for them to say things which are racist or sexist etc. This is slightly inevitable in a field like mine (sociology) where you are trying to understand an aspect of society as it is. You may like your participants, but that doesnt stop them saying things that you can be critical of. If you want your research to be ethical, you must make sure you have anonymised them correctly and received notice of their informed consent to participate, and then they have given you permission in this way.

I am sure you dont feel good about it, and I know that I dont feel good about saying critical things about my participants but it is somewhat par for the course. My participants have recieved a copy of the interview transcript so I know that they know what they said. Why do you think they will feel betrayed and upset? do you know them personally? Do you have to show them your findings? Also why do you think that you unintentionally gave them the impression that their voice would be represented by the research? Forgive me if I misunderstand, but how can you do qualitative research with participants where their views are not represented? Surely it is about their views and if their views are ones which you are critical of, then you are representing what they are saying but with a critical slant? this, I would have thought, would be fine as long as they were made aware of what the project is at the outset. You need to be true to your research questions and aims, and you cannot do that if you edit out the bad things that participants say. it is tough, but good luck.
23-Aug-10, 14:45
edited about 16 seconds later
Avatar for Sufirahasia
posted about 10 years ago
Thank you so much for responding. I everything you said is pretty much on the money. Of course I am representing their voices but when it comes to racist language I cannot help but not take their sides. I am on a very taboo topic here and subjectively I am more towards the conservative side of National Identity, traditional and religious culture (which my interviewees know). But on many points my paper may seem to be advocating the inclusion of non-conservative social-practice and other ethnicities; which I know my conservative informants would not like. I guess I want to maintain friendships with them. I don't have to show them my findings I guess. But if I don't then I feel like I am just using them. I think there needs to be transparency. As for their written consent, I have it; and they have seen the transcripts of what was said and replied with clarification on some points. So I guess I just need to write-it-up like it is and then let it go.

Once again,
many thanks.


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