15 June 2008

Involved observational research

Be the first to share
putting people first
by experientia

Basi
I always appreciate unusual perspectives so when Dr. Tina Basi, who consults with Intel’s Digital Health Group, contacted me about her research on power dynamics in ethnographic research, I was intrigued.

She recently presented a paper on the matter, entitled “Identity at Work and Play: Conducting Ethnography for Commercial Enterprise” at the London Business School in a seminar that dealt specifically with gender and power issues within the larger context of a seminar series on emotions and embodiment in research.

Here are some excerpts from a longer story she sent me:

The seminar brought together academics and practitioners with an interest in ethnographic research perspectives to the material generated in research.

Dr. JK Tina Basi, Director of Mehfil Enterprise and freelance researcher with Intel’s Digital Health Group in Ireland, discussed the role of identity in shaping the research process and outcomes. Her talk, entitled, ‘Identity at Work and Play: Conducting Ethnography for Commercial Enterprise’, looked at the way in which research design could better include and make space for the co-construction of both the researcher and the research participants’ identities. Drawing upon a range of feminist academics (Haraway, 1991; Stanley and Wise, 1993; and Wolf, 1996), Dr. Basi pointed towards the feminist epistemological critique of positivism and ‘value free’ research, which argues that the subjective/objective dichotomy is false, and that objectivity is simply a name given to male subjectivity.

“Interviewing is the art of construction rather than excavation; thus the task is to organize the asking and listening so as to create the best conditions for constructing meaningful knowledge (Mason, 2002). Research cannot be ‘hygienic’, and knowledge is best created as a co-production between the interviewer and interviewee (Collins, 2000), as two intersecting dialogues: dialogue number one is the ethnographer’s interviews with informants or the observations of people’s lives; dialogue two is between the ethnographer’s written work and the readers (Smith, 2002: 20) or the clients. Such an approach paves the way for greater reflexivity, which isn’t just about presenting the self and being reflexive about the self, it is about exposing power relations and the way in which these relations shape knowledge – a much more authentic way to conduct research, yielding sharper insights and deeper meanings.”

Dr Basi presented two examples from Intel’s research in the healthcare sector to show the strength of a dialogic approach to data collection. Intel’s research work on transport and mobility in rural Ireland was designed in part by the Rural Transport Programme and the research on social care services in England was heavily influenced by the experiences of elderly people using the services provided by Age Concern.

“Ethnography is just as much about the interview as it is about the setting, it is about building a rapport, yet you do more than just talking. You see things that people cannot articulate, what they don’t know they are trying to articulate. Ethnographic research provides a view of the rituals, practices, markers, and triggers in intimate settings and important environments – the situatedness of ethnography however, calls upon the researcher to become vulnerable in the process too.”

Download slides

Check out the LadyGeek blog too

Be the first to share
Related Article
27 February 2015
Steve Portigal’s insider view of corporate user research
The acclaimed UX researcher Steve Portigal hosts the DollarsToDonuts podcast series [iTunes | Twitter] where he talks with the people who lead user research in their (corporate) organization. Six programs so far: Carol Rossi, Senior Director of …
Related Article
24 February 2015
How do people save/share/revisit on mobile devices?
In early January, Mozilla UX conducted user research to refresh their understanding of how people save, share, and revisit mobile content with the goal of building a knowledge base for a larger contextual research project …
Related Article
20 February 2015
Understanding people’s financial behaviors
Erin Taylor and Gawain Lynch of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (UCI) lead a research project aimed at understanding people's financial behaviors. Their project, Consumer Finance Research: Global Approaches and Methods, is investigating …
Related Article
11 February 2015
Privacy is fast becoming the real disruptive force in digital technology
Data harvesting, data mining and analysis has transformed the way we look at our mobile devices and computer screens. Content is now adaptive and responsive to our behaviour. But, writes Paul Levy, Senior Researcher in …
Related Article
31 January 2015
The anthropology of the Quantified Self
increasing penetration of data into the domain of the “personal” and to the management and care of the self suggest that something is afoot in how the self is understood, experienced, and practiced more broadly, …
Related Article
31 January 2015
The rise of the Chief Behavioral Officer
After the Chief Experience Officer, the new trendy job title from corporate America is the Chief Behavioral Officer: "Dan Egan of the automated investing service Betterment estimates that between 10 and 20 Fortune 500 companies have …
Related Article
27 January 2015
Big Data and Small: Collaborations between ethnographers and data scientists
In the past three years, Heather Ford — an ethnographer and now a PhD student — has worked on ad hoc collaborative projects around Wikipedia sources with two data scientists from Minnesota, Dave Musicant and …
Related Article
24 January 2015
[Book] Beyond Design Ethnography
Beyond Design Ethnography: How Designers Practice Ethnographic Research Edited by Prof. Nicolas Nova along with Lysianne Léchot-Hirt of HEAD–Genève (CH), and Fabienne Kilchör and Sebastien Fasel (Emphase.ch) Head-Genève, January 2015 What do designers mean when they say they’re …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

19 December 2014
Putting People First blog redesigned

Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.

27 November 2014
Why the world needs anthropologists – an update

Why the world needs anthropologists – Coming out of the ivory tower Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00 Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 – The second edition of the international symposium of applied anthropologists attempts to erase the boundary between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, […]

30 October 2014
The BancoSmart ATM by Experientia for UniCredit selected for ADI Design Index

Last year Experientia designed the interface of an ATM of UniCredit, a major Italian bank. The interface is now rolled out across the bank’s ATMs in Italy, to great satisfaction of the bank and the customers alike, since interaction speed is much faster and error rates went down dramatically. Last year UniCredit and Experientia also […]

29 October 2014
Experientia at EPIC: UX transforming a financial institution

In September 2014 Experientia gave a presentation on working as UX professionals with financial institutions at the EPIC conference in New York. The paper is now available on the EPIC site in HTML and PDF versions (free registration req’d). Abstract Application of a user-centered approach rooted in ethnographic methodologies facilitates a major European bank’s transition […]

See all articles