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Research is something carried out to improve the understanding of some fundamental principles most of which arise from curiosity. It includes ethnographies, case studies and general descriptive studies which can be through interviews, document analysis and observations. Borg and Gall (1989) termed qualitative research as used interchangeably with naturalistic, ethnographic or post-positivistic.
Goetz and LeCompte (1984) chose to use ethnography as an overall practice of research using qualitative methods. Qualitative research is normally conducted in an unbiased pure setting without any environmental influence. In this paper the researcher would talk more on qualitative research in form of ethnography research and Interviews.
Ethnography involves empirical work especially vide observation that aims at yielding distinct non-reductive text which is unique to such individual (Taylor, 2002). It is the study of culture and social groups (Thorpe and Holt 2008) and can be said to be a theory of ideas on research that rest on a number of fundamental criteria or critical minimum marker. Oommen (1997) sees it as more of a subjective experiential research. The reality of such type of research is that the ethnographer needs to cope with the unexpected behavior and views of members in the site of examination (Russell (pg.182).
The Researcher says that "Intense observations in the classroom and playground area were completedâ€¦.. and detailed observations were conducted in â€¦. Lessons" (p. 184). What can you infer about the things she observed and the methods she used to record her observation?
Russell observed a lot of activities in the schools which were virtually all multi-cultural schools, two in Birmingham and one in Sydney (Russell, 2005 pg. 182-183). The sample used for her study was made up of students completing compulsory education and students in formal schooling who found the experience difficult in some ways.
Also students who were identified as not being able to "cope" in school i.e. students ranged from having truancy issues and exhibiting negative attitudes towards learning Russell (2005 pg 184). The majority of all such samples of students were gotten from the multicultural facets that characterized the three schools used in the research.
From the sample of students gotten, even though as a novice ethnographer, Russell applied the study of culture and the individual to the sample by trying to make a personal and individual connection with each of the student based on her sample (Thorpe &Holt 2008). The understanding and communication between Russell and the student influenced how the research was conducted i.e. how the information was to be gathered and interpreted. To establish such level of trust Russell had to reveal intimate information to the students which made them feel relaxed around her. In turn they also revealed intimate information of themselves, which helped Russell with the information she needed. Russell's relationship with people also helped build a positive and trusting rapport although not all students revealed the same detail of personal information about themselves. Russell also observed the relationship between teachers and student and noticed that if she was to gather the relevant level information and true picture of things from students she would have to be closer to student. That is emphasizing the researcher to concentrate on a particular target of attention Silverman (2007, pg 49). This resulted in the extraction of more information from the students than the teachers.
The method Russell used to record her observation was basically through ethnography, study of individual culture (Thorpe & Holt, 2008), based on incite of mental trust and observation of the
students. This was characterized in students informing her about their personal lives, the conduct Carl in the English lecture, the kicking and bashing of a school vendor machine, the sharing of secrets and the non-telling attitude exhibited. All these increased the level of trust by the students. The other methods used to record her observations where the interviews conducted for students, teachers, head of year, members of senior management, counselor and learning mentors (Russell, 2005) all these were recorded in Russell's booklet.
Russell was seen as a smaller teacher by Carl's friend, a leech by some student and a writer by other students since she normally carries her book around with her to write out her observations wherever she goes. Also been free with her research documentation and allowing other students to read it created trust in relationships. This also helped conditioned the appropriate information gotten from the students.
The author is a young ethnographer researching teenagers (p.193). What difference does our knowledge of her age and other personal details make to the account?
Russell being a novice young ethnographer researching into what constituted student resistance stood a very good chance in the ethnographic research due to the present disposition characterized by her being. Being a young English lady with a Northern Lancashire accent Russell (2005 pg 182) that draws people closer, her smallness of height and built also influenced how student and teachers reacted to her. This made her to fade into the background to observe the typical behavior of the student.
With all these attributes Russell was able to socialize with the student groups and gathered the needed information for her research via ethnographic relationship. It is recognized that Russell's research with natural as well as social science doesn't necessarily follow an ideal logical step by step approach that can be carried out in terms of a pre-planned organized set of procedures (Walford, 1991). The role Russell adopted and participant students understudied influenced the collection and interpretation of data (Skeggs, 1997).
The status and age of Russell also characterized, helped her relate with students at a peer group level signifying her as a young student with all the challenges that characterize a resistant student. Although some of such students still saw Russell as a writer and teacher of which they voluntarily offered to be interviewed.
The knowledge of her age and the importance of bonding with the students made her present a different relationship with the teachers so as not to jeopardize the ethnography setting already characterized by her relationship with the students. The knowledge of her personal account helped in presenting a real life account of how teenagers live and behave. She was also able to investigate other females on issues such as mother-hood experiences, female secret chats and smoking in toilets. "Giving particular richness to the research, Russell can penetrate into areas of meaning that are not opened to outsiders" Thorpe & Holt (2008, pg 90).
Due to her stature some male student would flirt with her and embellish the idea of sexual intimidation Russell (2005, p.g.194). Russell's age also enabled her to engage in and understand some discussions and terms used by the students. What only limited her communication a little was the language barrier characterized by few of the student so as to exclude teachers from their discussion Russell (2005, p.g.195). It would be noted that if such characteristics i.e. Russell being a young female and small in size, the level of information gotten or collected using the ethnographic research means in such field would not have been detailed and concise as possible.
It is also evidenced in the support and guidance given by Russell to students daily and she was referred to whenever one needed someone to confine in. Also evidenced is the emotional attachment she had with Rachael who had an alcoholic mother. This made Rachael not to cope with school activities.
Russell claims that her "ethnographic research investigates the complex and sometimes contradictory culture(s) of student resistance to schooling (Willis 1972)"(p.181). How is this claim supported in the paper?
The ethnographic research carried out by Russell on complex and sometimes contradictory culture of student resistance to schooling was not implicitly defined in the article by Russell. The focus from my observation was on the methods of which can bring about resistance in the real sense. It was noticed that the research was focused more on students with less focus to the teachers who were also part of the research scope to be covered. As was stated this study examines the significance and relationship between class, gender and ethnicity in the construction of resistance (Russell, pg. 182). The article still did not go in-depth to bring about the actual resistance to schooling rather it talked about the mannerism characterized by the student which may be said to be resistance. This was evidenced by Carl a student disturbing the class and bullying a fellow student while the teacher was teaching. Similarly smoking, truancy, emotional and psychological problems at home was found to have an effect on female students' studies. This and many more were exhibited by some students but did not explicitly reflect student resistance to schooling literarily. Also the information in regards to the teacher were very minor since Russell wanted to know more information from students "wanting to fade away into the background and observe typical behavior (Russell 2005 pg. 189) characterized by the students". Moreover most of the relationship with teachers did not talk about the resistance since the relationship was very minor and even though Russell was able to communicate better with the teachers in the third school.
The teachers saw Russell as someone who wanted to mediate the behavior instead of one who wanted to have an insight into the reason for the attitude the student exhibited. This was very non-correlative to the main theme of the article.
Based on the information gathered, I think the paper is basically about what can be called attributes characterized by students not the study of student resistance.
The author appears to have difficulties recruiting interviewees (see especially p.g 102). Why, for example, might an organization withdraw from the study claiming "restructuring was in progress". (p.102).
Following the number of organizations Kamenou contacted, only three organizations responded to the study Kamenou (2008 pg S102). Interviews could not be done in one of the three organizations since its management claimed "restructuring was in progress" Kamenou (2008 p.g. S102). This is likely due to the management of such organization having a problem trusting whoever information of the company is released too. Also the management may believe confidential issues which should not be shown may be brought to public light. Furthermore it may be that the organization may not be practicing the "Rhetoric of equality of opportunity" Kamenou (2008 pg S102).
If it comes to Kamenou's notice the result of such research might bring up law suites based on unethical practices carried out by the company. This could lead to the company's downturn.
Another reason why Kamenou had difficulty recruiting employees can be that if staff of such organization reveal the true position of activities it can adversely affect their career progression and continuity in such company. This normally results in staff being biased when interviewed by Kamenou.
However, some organization may claim not to have the luxury of time to grant the researcher interview since they would be very busy with the day to day running of their business. Irvine (2003) talks about organizations representative keen on cost and benefits of her research to their company to safeguard its reputation but some could still grant Kamenou access to their organization to see how the structure is being practiced.
Alcadipani & Hodgson (2009, p.127) argue that "the process of negotiating formal access is known to be difficult". It can be that the strategy and mode of approach in which Kamenou required formal access to the organization hadn't any cost benefit impact to encourage the company to be in the study e.g. free market research, social image projection or enhanced positive publicity. Irvine (2003) said her research required setting up procedures and relationships which assured organization members confidentiality.
With access to such organization it would put them in a good light if such research information is positive and goes public. It would also confirm the company is applying the "Rhetoric of equality of opportunity". This can also help such companies based on information collated and the need for review were they need areas to which resources need to be put to use and where improvements would be needed.
If Kamenou cannot recruit and interview the appropriate key officials in this research, it would lead to the research being incomplete and inconclusive since adequate results would not be generated to bring out an appropriate inference. Also all the efforts put into such research work would not be fruitful since the desired result would not be gotten.
Would you expect differences between the people in organizations where formal access had been granted and the "Independent" groupâ€¦. Identified through personal networking? If so, what might these differences be?
I would expect there to be a difference where formal access had been granted than that of an independent group for which research is to be carried out in an organization. This view is supported by Buchanan (1993, pg 297) who argues that "the mode in which informants are recruited influences the content of informant response". There could be bias in the interview conducted since Kamenou would have known such people are from the organization. Buchanan (1993) was of the opinion that interviewees of an organization speak on behalf of such organization and not directly for themselves. With this the information obtained may not be a true reflective of such individual independent decision. However, with independent interviews the recipients then would be unbiased in judgment since they are not affiliated to any organization.
A key hindrance to interviewees' response is if the researcher is an agent of such company. This would inhibit the trust in relationship between the interviewee and the researcher and also the type of information said by the interviewee. This would be highly unlikely if the interviewees confirm the researcher is independent of the organization. Irvine (2003 pg 113) in her organizational research project states " Individuals were "fearful perhaps that what they said would either filter back up the organizational structure and rebound on them unfavorably".
Kamenou (2008) said she uses pseudonyms but does not talk about trust relationship with the interviewees. Another difference in the interview result is if individuals are being interviewed by their own will or were forced by management of the organization. With this the result of the interview would not be a true reflective of the information requested. Thorpe & Holt (2008) call this a "danger of minimal interaction".
It was assumed that the interviews were conducted in a formal environment so this would influence the level of information Kamenou got from the individual employees.
A hindrance to the interview result is if personal networked individual or management appointed to talk to Kamenou on the company fails to supply the right information as required for a fear of career progression. Also such individual would be very careful with the words spoken out except the researcher plans to leave an open playing field research which the company or individual would not be indentified on information.
Moreover in a formal organization there is always a chain of command, sometimes characterized by bureaucracy which would not allow Kamenou get the required and detailed information used for her research.
It would be noted that if such hindrances are established then Kamenou can get the information through personal networking of individuals who may have relations working in such organization but with not a lot of details.
From reading the paper, what do we know about the author? How might the identity of the author have a difference to the research?
From reading the article it can be observed that the Kamenou (2008) only provided details of her academic achievements of which was also inferred that she is a female. Thorpe & Holt (2008) argue that a researcher's race, ethnicity and color influence interview responses. Based on this Kamenou's knowledge and personal identity would be important to provide an insight to the readers on how interview responses are affected. If Kamenou was from same ethnic group studied this would create more bias on the research conducted. It would enable her ask more meaningful questions. Reese et al (1986) explains how interview effect existed particularly in questions that bordered around ethnicity.
Many researchers have shown that the race of an interviewer is keen to any research on ethnicity conducted. Hatchett & Schuman (2001) argue that "The process seems to be one of avoiding responses that might offend the interviewer of the opposing race and of being frank with the interview's race". Therefore if Kamenou was of same race of the as the respondent she would have obtained better data in the research.
But generally Kamenou can be seen as a scientific researcher who is in the quest for more knowledge on human resource management and cultural diversities as it affects mostly working class women work life balance.
Kamenou being the kind of person she is with her vast knowledge in such area would structure the interviews for the organization in the best way possible to gather qualitative and concise information to suit her research. Also if Kamenou was a member of such organization it would have made the information gotten to be without bias or conflict as regards threats from the management based on the information released since she would be seen as an insider.
However, there can be bias in the information given to Kamenou if it is known that the information gotten is for public use. This is because such individual would not want to present her organization in a bad light. Questions I would ask Kamenou if there were such individual are:
What spurred the research and who is funding it. To confirm if it is government funded to be used by the government for social economic upturn or political uniformity of cultures.
Ask if such document is going to be made public to know how to prevent my organization in the best way possible.