University of Cambridge > > Fieldwork Seminar: Methodologies in the 'field' > Managing participation and relationships in the field

Managing participation and relationships in the field

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My research explores gendered perceptions of inclusion/exclusion in urban public spaces in marginal areas of Mumbai. I first began fieldwork hoping to employ participatory methods where participants help shape the research agenda and process – a key approach in feminist research. However, this posed some problems: among them, it assumed the existence of a ‘community’ which was sometimes an elusive concept; and participants often didn’t have the time or inclination to critically engage with research that they felt didn’t directly concern their everyday lives. In such cases, how can research seek participation, or at least ensure solidarity with the concerns of participants? With those that got somewhat involved, long informal conversations both produced rich data and feedback for the research as well as built friendships. Here, how do you deal with ensuing relationship dynamics, when building friendships that also serve as sources of research data? This talk will discuss some of the ethical and emotional/mental issues I encountered, which I hope will help others avoid (or at least be more prepared for) some of the dilemmas I faced in the field.

This talk is part of the Fieldwork Seminar: Methodologies in the 'field' series.

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