Positionality: Research and Social World Assignment

Positionality: Research and Social World Assignment Words: 2671

Introduction: Before joining my Masters in Business administration, I have done few researches at my working places, not knowing that there are some many methods, approaches, etc. Thanks to Dr. Stephen Sommerville, for teaching me to do research in the professional way. Let my first research be the critical review of my own positionality i. e. who am I to me and in the others point of view? Does my positionality affect the research works I took or will take? Sitting back and thinking about the research that I have done in the past, I can say that the positionality had some impact on my research.

In this paper let us see how …. Literature Review: First of all what does this word research means? Let us quickly see about the research just to get a brief idea about it before moving into our main topic positionality. Research is study to identify the in depth meaning of any subject or theories by probing deep into it and argue with relevant fact and figures. Research according to author S. Sarantakos is “they are usually employed for the purpose of gaining knowledge that will advance our understanding of the social world. It may also help in rejecting or supporting existing theories about the social world”. [1]

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Basically there are two forms of research namely primary research and secondary research. If you are using an accepted methodology for collecting facts and data’s it means primary research. There are three methods for primary research they are Survey method, Experimental method and Ethnographic method whereas secondary research means collections of data’s or facts from an existing resource. As Veal, A. J (1997) says that “secondary research is a research which is been done before were the data already exist, were the data might have collected to some other primary research but which might be used for the current research”. 2] There are two important methods of research namely quantitative methods and qualitative methods. The output of the research depends upon the method a researcher chooses. Quantitative methods mainly rely upon the data’s or facts collected from experiments or observations, they need unbiased samples whereas qualitative methods rely upon the interpretation of existing data’s or facts. Next coming to approaches, there are six paradigms or approaches namely positivist approach, interpretivist approach, Empiricist approach, Rationalist approach, Reductionist approach and Constructivist approach.

In this paper, I will be focusing on positivist and interpretivist approaches in detail as they are more related to the topic which we will be discussing in this research paper. Before defining positivist, positivism is the method of gathering or believing results through a repetitive analytical and scientific approach. The research of positivism obtained through traditional way. They are quantitative. According to the authors Boris Blumberg, Donald Cooper, Pamela Schindler “Positivism is a research philosophy adopted from the natural sciences. Its three basic principles are, )The social world exists externally and is viewed objectively 2)Research is value-free. 3)The researcher is independent, taking the role of an objective analyst. ” [3] Now defining Positivist, he is person who follows the positivism method. Positivist is the person who believes in repeated analysis and experiments. Positivist believes that science is the tool to derive at truth and that it can help in understanding the world better so as to predict and control it. The authors Boris Blumberg, Donald Cooper, Pamela Schindler in their article say “Positivism implies the following assumptions. The social world is observed by collecting objective facts. ¦ The social world consists of simple elements to which it can be reduced. [3] Positivists observe in a single dimension, this usually results in explanation from that point of view and will be avoiding the other areas which are very basic. Now, after getting an idea on positivism, let us move to our next approach, i. e. interpretivist approach. This approach is diagonally opposite to the positivist approach. According to Interpretivist, to understand the whole complexity of the world the simple fundamental laws that are used by positivist are not sufficient.

They argue that the observing the intentional behaviour and actions of human beings is impossible. Authors Boris Blumberg, Donald Cooper, Pamela Schindler say, Interpretivist argue that simple fundamental laws are insufficient to understand the whole complexity of social phenomena. More important, however they claim that an objective observation of the social world is impossible, as the social world has a meaning for human beings and is constructed by intentional behaviour and actions.

Intentional interpretivism approaches meaning as intentional states of individual minds, to be understood by locating them within the broader network of an individual’s other intentional states and in a concrete context of social practices and interactions with others. The basic principles of interpretivism are, •The social world is constructed and is given meaning subjectively by people •The researcher is part of what is observed •Research is driven by interests. The assumptions of the interpretivism are. ¦ the social world is observed by seeing what meanings people give to it and nterpreting these meanings from their viewpoint. ¦ Social phenomena can only be understood by looking at the totality. [3] So for a successful research there must be the combination of both positivist and interpretivist approaches. What was my approach in the past researches that I took? After going through the above modules it sounds like I have been interpretivist by following the interpretivism approach. What is positionality? Positionality is the theory of seeing a person or a situation from his point of view and from others perspective for the research that he is going to undertake or have already undertaken.

The Positionality of each researcher differs from one another. The real life of a researcher influences his or her positionality in the research work they take. There are few elements like personal thinking, religion, education, gender, work atmosphere and culture. Generally there are some impacts of the real life experiences in the research style a researcher adopts. According to Maher and Tetreault, Positionality is a term used to describe how people are defined, that is “not in terms of fixed identities, but their locations with shifting networks of relationships, which can be analysed and changed. 4]They also define positionality as the “knower’s specific position in any context as defined by race, gender, class and other socially significant dimensions of societal domination and oppression, position is also always evolving, context-dependent, and relational, in the sense that constructs of maleness create and depend on constructs of femaleness, and blackness and the term “of colour” are articulated against ideas of whiteness. ” [5]”. Now here come few new concepts like insider and outsider which have a great impact on the research. I would like to give a brief description on the both.

Insider is a part of the group or community. It is good and advantageous for a researcher to be an insider in the research. Being an insider he or she can relate and feel the pulse of the other peoples in the group. He or she can understand the ideas and thoughts of the group. They can congregate the information more effectively from the community and there will be good synchronising of wavelength. For example an Indian doing research on “why the cricket (game) is seen more than a game in India? “, has an advantage of being an insider in the positionality. Coming to outsider, he or she is not a part of the group or community.

Generally they may find it difficult to relate to the situation and start doing the research than an insider. Outsider needs to assume or imagine the concept whereas an insider can relate to it. For example an American will hold the outsider positionality when he or she do a research on “why cricket (game) is seen more than a game in India? ” Fine, who is a good researcher? Researcher is the one who studies about a specific topic thoroughly by collecting data’s and information using different methods and analyse it so as to present the given topic in a detailed and accurate manner. Few qualities expected from good researcher, Should seek for the truth by going in depth in the research taken. •Do not blindly try to prove his hypothesis but try to test it. •Stay focus on the topic. He should not get distracted or influenced by elements like budget, personal problem, etc •Must believe in his ideas. •Be a good team player •Persistence and proactive •Acceptance of new ideas, information and techniques open minded •Be positive and should not be afraid of failure. [6] As said in the beginning of the paper, now I will try to position myself from two points of views, who am I to me and how I am to others. Who am I? Effect of my positionality on the Research: I am born in Tiruchirapalli, south India in a joint family, lived with grant parents, uncles, aunts and cousins. I did my early part of schooling in Tiruchirapalli before moving to Chennai, India at the age of 14 as I my father started a business in this part of India. My parents wanted to give us (me, my two sisters and a brother) a good education, even though my father was the only bread winner; we did our schooling from one of the reputed institution (this is another reason for us shifting from our native). This part of life had a great impact on my lifestyle and upbringing.

It taught me to take up things serious. I come from an orthodox Hindu family which had a high belief in the God and moral values. As I spent my early days with my grandparents, who used tell stories from the Hindu mythologies has influenced me in my growth with high spiritual values and beliefs. These values and beliefs are inclined in me. According to my religion, there is a belief that what we are getting is already assigned to us and we will acquire knowledge through experience. This sounds similar to that of interpretivism. Growing up in the different culture has also influenced me.

For instance Tiruchirapalli is more of spiritual city with lot of temples whereas Chennai is happening city with people from different culture, country. After finishing my schooling and I wanted to do Bachelors in Commerce but I had to take up work due to my family situation. So I started working in a private aquarium company (small business) that was owned by one of my relative. But I was feeling sorry for my parents who wanted to see me with a Masters degree from a good institute abroad. Whilst working I started to do my Bachelors of Commerce degree through distance education.

After my degree I taught that now I can try for my master’s and started working towards it. My goal is start my own business, so I wanted to do Masters in Business administration. For doing it I need experience which I had. Was that enough? No, it needed more. The organisation I worked taught me many things in small business; I taught it’s the time for me to shift my gears to next level (grow). So I joined a multi-national company who were producing and selling E-mail management software as a business development executive. They have their head office in USA.

My family and friends too felt that it was a wise decision for me to shift job because I will get international exposure. I gained nice experience by working in the multinational company, like interaction with foreign clients, knowing the economy of their countries, their business environment. To make my parents and my dream come true, with the experience I got from my work, I am doing my Masters in Business Administration in London, UK. In 2003, at my first work place, the company was facing time lag problem Because of which the products were not reaching the customers on time and lots of complain of bad packaging.

The management started to put pressure on us. Management wanted me to see through this problem. I readily accepted it as it will be helpful for me when I start my business. I taught of analysing the situation (research). Here I would like to remind my introduction, I was not aware of the methods and techniques that time. I believed, it would be easy for me to communicate with my colleagues and understand them better as I am one among them (insider). My brought up in joint family helped me to work together and cultural background helped me in mingle with them easily.

I gathered information from each workers, register and enquired with security to see where we are going wrong. The research revealed the time are lost in •Taking rest (they get exhausted fast because of humidity) •Long tea breaks and lunch breaks (has to go out and have lunch in restaurants which is time consuming) •Toilet break Now I have found the problem, next I discussed about the solution. I got different kinds of suggestions like providing tea and snacks, free lunch, extended lunch breaks, etc I was in the position to analyse the problem, the result should be fair and benefit to both management and employee.

I discussed with the accountant and team leaders and came up with a proposal that tea and snacks should be provided free of cost in the evening, subsidised lunch (25% of cost will be bared by workers and 75% by management), workers should go in batches for lunch so that the work will going without any stop, workers should behave in matured manner and should realise that they are being paid for their work, the main doors should be closed at 9:05am and will again open at 4:45pm, etc. Next day a meeting was held and the proposal was presented to management and they agreed to the proposal.

It was implemented from next month. Now the management is happy that their work is going fine and the workers are happy and comfortable. Management congratulated me and the workers gave a party to thank me, while some asked me to mind my own business. Overall, I am also happy that my work has been recognised. Critical Review: Critically reviewing my positionality, the successful output of the research is because I was an insider. The insider effect helped me to easily relate to the problem and favoured to a better conclusion.

I have taken the interpretivist approach in the above research. I have been fair to both the parties, the real success of the research was that I as able to see my result practically. It helped me to analyse my positionality that it made both the parties happy. My positionality has influenced the research I have done. Next research I take will have more professional approach because of my path to understand research methods. Conclusion: To conclude, I have benefited from this research paper, it has helped me to understand positionality and ways of approach towards a topic.

This piece of work has taught me different methods, styles and process of research, in detail. This assignment has proved that positionality of a researcher has an impact on the research he takes. This research will be a stepping stone to achive my goal of starting and running a business. The best research will be a combination of qualitative and quantitative research and mix of positivism and interpretivism approach. Before finishing my paper, I would like to thank all the reference authors and Dr. Stephen Sommerville for his eachings and the opportunity to present this paper. References: 1] Author Sir S. Sarantakos, Social Research, second edition page, 2. 2] Veal, A. J. (1997) Research Methods for Leisure Tourism Practical guide, London, Pitman. 3]http://highered. mcgrawhill. com/sites/dl/free/007710742x/249450/01Chap01. PDF (last accessed on 20th March’2008) 4] Maher & Tetreault, 1994, p. 164 5] Maher and Tetreault, 1997, p. 197 6]http://www. publicaffairs. ubc. ca/ubcreports/2002/02oct10/goodresearch. html (last accessed on 20th March’2008)

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