Ethnography As A Research Method

The book “Downwardly Global: Women, Work, and Citizenship in the Pakistani Diaspora” by Lalaie Ameeriar investigates reasons for immigrant unemployment and underemployment. The author grew up in Canada, where she experienced problems common for people of color. In the research, she describes the current situation in Toronto, governmental actions, and women's feelings about it. Interview and observation are the main research methods. However, the sample is limited to unemployed women. Despite deep personal compassion that allowed the author to conduct the research, it has great methodological issues.

Research Summary

One of the main argument of the research is the absence of appropriate training of unemployed women. The author participated in more than 50 workshops during eighteen months of studying that were dedicated to different professional occupations, healthcare topics, and local policies. While most of the attendees had higher education in medicine, engineering, or law, the process of licensing was not discussed and discovered. Although the organizations that provide these workshops are not owned by the state, they are funded by it, which makes them representatives of the government. Due to this, Canada pays major attention to the appearance of immigrants and is not interested in their skills. A commonly stated problem of bureaucracy is not addressed by any organization. In addition to this, society has particular expectations about immigrants.

While the state invites highly qualified immigrants into the country, the business expects them to behave, appear, and look like white citizens. The private conversation allowed the author revealing that many companies have racial preferences in hiring employees. While immigrants are taught to hide their race and nationality on workshops, each May Toronto celebrates the South Asian festival and enjoys its national heritage. Due to this, society wants immigrants to hide their otherness in everyday life and to show it in a particular period. Although Canada is perceived worldwide as a tolerant country, immigrants consider these expectations racist.

Application of Ethnography as a Research Method

The research of Lalaie Ameeriar supported my understanding of the role of the researcher in applying the ethnographic methods. Lalage was involved in direct communication with the sample, collecting data from the visitors of ‘the Center', which refers to the emic approach toward the understanding of the respondent's culture and attitude. The application of ethnography regarding data collecting with observation, interviews, analyses of artifacts and diaries of respondents, can be assumed as an effective tool for the research. However, the overall research can be assumed as arguable due to sample issues – the respondents were only those immigrants, who had issues with finding a job, the control group was not assessed.

Despite I could not find the information about the duration of the experiment, the research was drawing the attention to the results of the interview. It can be assumed that the main source of the gathered information was a conversation. The author avoids the description of building communications, instead proposing that her efforts were directed on the information gathering. Additionally, the author mentions that she was also the immigrant and some of the sample representatives were interested in her.

After the analyses of the research it can be assumed that the author did not control the interview, collecting only complains from the assessed audience. The obtained data is rather arguable and the use of ethnography as a research method was poor, while the interview was not scientifically structured with precise questions that had to be addressed. I would recommend changing the research structure making two samples of women that have found work and those, who did not, collect the data about their education and background, develop and apply the structured interview with specific topics that should be addressed.

Another issue of the research is the impact of the personality of the researcher on the obtained data, which is expressed in the positioning of the researcher as a part of the sample. This has affected her description of the group being studied by intense compassion toward them. Thus, her approach can be described as a subjective and preconceived interpretation of the emic approach to ethnography.

The result of incorrect research can be witnessed in ethical issues that were suggested by the author and became a result of her conclusions. First, the issue of underemployment due to cultural commitment and government inability to affect the situation of the group is an ethical issue that stated by the author but has a weak evidence base. Second, the author uses the preconceived interpretation of information without direct data analyses.

According to the above mentioned, the research is important due to its highlighting the malfunction of training agencies which are not owned by the state but state-funded. Additionally, the research can be used for the development of the enculturation program for Muslim immigrants. From the other side, the research limitations are based on its inconsistency due to sample issues, poor use of ethnography methods and the strong impact of the researcher's personality.

10 October 2020
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