We’re here, you just don’t know how to reach us: A reflexive examination of research with citizens on the socio-economic margins
Research that aims to trouble social, cultural, and economic disparities is usually conducted with the best of socially just intentions. Still, embedded in all research processes is the potential to disrupt and, simultaneously, reproduce mechanisms of power that enable inequalities. Hence, as Bourdieu (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992) insists, such efforts require reflexive examination that involves an interrogation of practices and regulations guiding research. Drawing upon my own reflexive inquiry, I address in this article some of the methodological challenges that surfaced when I conducted ethnographic doctoral research with socially and economically disadvantaged young adults. I discuss participant recruitment, retention concerns, and ways to support participants’ involvement in research. I aim to expose assumptions in research practices that may have inadvertently reproduced some of the inequalities that this research attempted to disturb and to suggest ways to address these challenges.
La recherche qui aborde les disparités sociales, culturelles, et économiques est généralement effectuée avec les meilleures intentions socialement juste. Pourtant, intégrée dans tous les processus de recherche est le potentiel de perturber et, simultanément, de reproduire les mécanismes du pouvoir qui permettent aux inégalités. Ainsi, comme Bourdieu (Bourdieu et Wacquant, 1992) insiste, de tels efforts nécessitent un examen des pratiques et des règles régissant la recherche. Je m’adresse dans cet article les défis méthodologiques qui ont surgi lorsque j’ai effectué des recherches ethnographiques de doctorat avec des jeunes adultes qui sont socialement et économiquement défavorisés. Je discute le recrutement des participants, la rétention des préoccupations, et les moyens d’aider les participants à rester impliqués dans la recherche. Je vise à exposer des suppositions dans les pratiques de recherche qui peut reproduit les inégalités que cette recherche a tenté déranger et suggérer des moyens d’aborder ces défis.
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