Advances in self-engagement research method : the case of disadvantaged female migrant entrepreneurs in Auckland, New Zealand

Akhter, Safia and Frederick, Howard 2008, Advances in self-engagement research method : the case of disadvantaged female migrant entrepreneurs in Auckland, New Zealand, in ANZTSR 2008 : Australia and New Zealand Third Sector Research : Ninth Biennial Conference : Demonstrate, Australia and New Zealand Third Sector Research, [Auckland, New Zealand].

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Title Advances in self-engagement research method : the case of disadvantaged female migrant entrepreneurs in Auckland, New Zealand
Author(s) Akhter, Safia
Frederick, Howard
Conference name Australian and New Zealand Third Sector Research Conference (9th : 2008 : Auckland, New Zealand)
Conference location Auckland, New Zealand
Conference dates 24-26 November 2008
Title of proceedings ANZTSR 2008 : Australia and New Zealand Third Sector Research : Ninth Biennial Conference : Demonstrate
Editor(s) [Unknown]
Publication date 2008
Conference series Australian and New Zealand Third Sector Research Conference
Publisher Australia and New Zealand Third Sector Research
Place of publication [Auckland, New Zealand]
Summary The “self-engagement research method” is a set of research procedures, which aims to search latent (hidden) attitudes within a given group of individuals, such as disadvantaged women. This method also examines the research participants practises through an intensive involvement in the process of research. Research on self-regulation has also tended to emphasize having personal control over an event as the primary determinant of whether individuals can effectively monitor and alter their behaviour to attain a desired end state (W. Britt, 1999, 699).

The “self-engagement procedure” originated from fieldwork of social research, especially from the present author’s experiences as a researcher and practitioner on women’s empowerment under the micro-finance programme in Women’s Empowerment Foundation, Auckland and in Grameen Bank Micro-finance programme (Nobel prize winner Professor Mohammed Yunus on poverty reduction through micro-finance).

This technique is based on the oft-cited phenomenon of discrepancies between what research Participants say what they often believe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participant_observation). This follows on Gabriel (1991:123-126) namely that participant observation is a useful technique for gaining insight into facts and is also useful for the rural poor or marginal groups, who are unable to communicate their problems. The problem is that since the 1980s, some anthropologists and the social scientists have questioned the degree to which participant observation can give truthful insight into the minds of other people (Geertz, Clifford,1984 & Rosaldo, Renato, 1986).

This paper discusses the difficulties found in using participant observation to discover discrepancies between what participants say and what they really believe. It also discusses self-engagement research procedures which the author has developed through the long-term research experiences with disadvantaged groups of women in Auckland. These procedures discover the discrepancies between what participants say and what is in their mind.

These self-engagement procedures were used from the beginning of the fieldwork to locate research areas and get access to the study settings. It was found there are gaps in this method. For example, there are no systematic processes in which researchers can gain access into the community or be welcomed by research participants. It was also difficult to discover the insight into the facts that cause disempowerment and how micro-finance impacts everyday life on research participants. McCracken (1988 cited in Mertens, 1998:321) argued that researchers collect data directly through observation, but it is not possible to imitate, repeat involvement in the experiences of research participants.

This research draws on and extends the long traditional of participant observation in social research. In field research practises, participant observation was used in different ways for gaining insight into different aspects. A good example is the use and mis-use of the “field journal” in this type of research. The journal typically explained and analysed experiences and understanding of participant observation, in-depth interviews and group discussions on the impact of micro-finance on women’s lives. However, researchers later realised that there were gaps in collected knowledge that needed to be filled. This led to “self-engagement procedures” which developed greater confidence that collected data could truly give insight into patterns of behaviour.

This paper addresses sensitive issues of women’s empowerment under the micro finance programmes and makes a contribution to the literature. The “self-engagement method” detects the “silent facts” of women’s lives. In research conducted amongst disadvantaged women in Auckland, New Zealand and Grameen Bank micro-finance programme in Bangladesh. The method of self-engagement led to better data when participants (both research and subjects) clearly perceived the purpose of the research, when participants have control over providing personal information, and when subjects can build trust with researchers. One overall lesson of this research is that research data and findings are more generalisaable and valid when the participants in the research process understand the relevancy to his/her disadvantaged position and the causes of this, and when participants perceive that it is an opportunity to voice his/her disadvantages and causes.

The “self-engagement research method” involves a variety of behavioural activities. This paper also attempts to discuss in detail, these activities. This paper attempts to discuss the process of the “self-engagement method” in a systematic way. This has been addressed in the research process, in which research participants and researchers become self-engaged to detect the reality of the impact of micro finance to empower the disadvantaged. The stages of self-engagement procedures were developed and followed throughout field research into entrepreneurial behaviour of disadvantaged women in Auckland.

Research on self-regulation has also tended to emphasize having personal control over an event as the primary determinant of whether individuals can effectively monitor and alter their behaviour to attain a desired end state (W. Britt, 1999, 699).

A suitable research method could identify the empowerment/disempowerment of a disadvantaged group of individuals. The self-engagement procedures create a process, in which research participants and researchers become ‘self-engaged’ and gain insight into facts.
Language eng
Field of Research 160810 Urban Sociology and Community Studies
HERDC Research category E1.1 Full written paper - refereed
Copyright notice ©2008, ANZTSR
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30022162

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Management and Marketing
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