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This paper seeks to carryout critical analysis of an article, “A Friend Who Understands fully’: Notes on Humanizing Research in A Multiethnic Youth Community” by Django Paris. The article examines how to humanize research in the context of youth and multiethnic communities.
According to Paris (2011), humanizing research involves methodological approach that employs the dialogic process in raising consciousness and building effective relationships between researchers and participants based on dignity and care (p.137).
Humanization of research is not only ethical but also enhances the validity of the research. Since, humanization of research in schools and multiethnic communities is effective in enhancing validity of research, this essay summarizes and critically analyses the research article.
The article starts by stating that, the relationship between teachers and students seems to be oppressive and imposing; thus, it hinders the process of conducting effective research and affects the validity of findings. In the context of schools and multiethnic communities, elements of oppression and marginalization are barriers that hinder effective research process.
Hence, the article suggests that humanization of methodological approach is the remedy of dispelling fears associated with oppression and marginalization. Paris (2011) asserts that, process of observation and interview during research should engage participants and researchers in a humanizing manner (p.138).
Humanization of methodological process enhances relationships between researchers and participants, thus promote effective interaction that is robust for research. Therefore, humanizing process of research is imperative in an educational environment where oppression and marginalization exist.
To delineate the meaning of humanizing research, the article delves into dialogic contours of relationships and fieldwork moves in the context of youth and multiethnic environment. These relationships form the methodological process that humanize research and ultimately enhances the validity of its findings.
As a basis of research, the author explains own experiences as a way of supporting his views on the essence of humanization of research in multiethnic background where many ethical issues hinder effective research process.
The author conducted a year research at South Vista High, whereby, he examined the progress of eight students in terms of language and literacy, while theorizing how multiethnic environment of schooling may influence their education and career.
According to Paris (2011), occasional interaction with students led to unprecedented understanding that changed my own perception of cultural, social and linguistic worlds (p.138). Central to experiences is the extent to which students closely interacted with him because Rahul, one of the students marveled the author when he emailed him a freestyle lyric, which depicted a lot about the nature of relationships they had.
The article shows that Rahul’s lyric highlighted the essence of relationships in research, for he freely expressed his thoughts to the teacher without any reservation. Paris (2011) states that, “Rahul wrote to me a freestyle lyric because he had developed trust,” thus ‘a friend who understands fully’ what he means for he perceived that they have a common experience of life (p.139).
Rahul was so open to his teacher and researcher, Django Paris, because he had told them about his racial and ethnic identity and his life experiences, which enhanced interaction and relationships. Such experience triggered Django Paris to understand the importance of humanizing research in multiethnic and schooling environment because it is prone to oppression and marginalization.
Through own experiences of humanizing research, Django Paris examined humanization through fieldwork. The article focuses on ways of enhancing participant observation and interviewing as an imperative methodological process of conducting ethnographic research that describes relationships in the context of culture, language and society.
Paris (2011) asserts that, a dialogic process in an effective way of building reciprocal relationships that can humanize research methodology and enhance the validity of its findings (p. 140). Relationships are central in research because; they humanize research process and enhance researchers and participants to interact effectively, as they share issues in a genuine dialogue that is free of oppression and marginalization.
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Since schools and law enforcement agents has been constantly monitoring the youth, students have been under serious suspicion in that they could not interact with strangers, thus a barrier to effective research. However, field interaction provided the basis of building trustworthy relationships that made them open up and participate actively in the research process.
To improve humanization of the research, the article states that, interview is central in conducting qualitative research that entails social and ethnographic studies. Collection of reliable and valid interview data requires researchers to develop not only rapport, but also create a friendly and interactive environment that encourages sharing of personal experiences.
In a school environment, there is a sense of power difference between teachers and students, which creates oppressive atmosphere that hinders effective interaction. Additional, in multiethnic schools, there is racial and ethnic prejudice that causes marginalization of other students, and thus affects interaction of teachers and students.
Thus, Paris (2011) explains that, for an interview to be effective in gathering relevant information, researchers need to ensure that students or participants share private issues openly, otherwise oppression and marginalization limits effective interviews (p.143).
It means that an interview should consider ethnic differences among students as in the case of South Vista High. Hence, cultural and linguistic difference plays a significant role in determining interaction of researchers and participants.
The article further asserts that understanding of cultural and linguistic aspects of students demands active participation of researchers in a study. Participant observation of ethnographic research requires a researcher to act as an observer, participant and participant-observer at different times since research is a continuum of activities.
For instance, playing football with other students, makes one a participant, while being passive in the classroom makes one an observant. According to Paris (2011), participation in relationships that are relevant to the participants enhances building of genuine relationships that are interactive and inspiring, and thus form a basis of humanization through participation (p.145).
Therefore, participation on the part of researchers is essential in improving humanization of the research process and enhancing validity of information collected.
Critical Analysis of Article
The author of the article argues basing on empirical experiences that he underwent during the process of conducting research. Research process showed that the author is an empiricist who believes in empirical determination of hypotheses.
Hypothesis of the research was that, humanization of methodological process of research is an effective way of enhancing dialogic interaction between researchers and participants in an oppressive and marginalizing environment, that exists in multiethnic schools. Through empirical approach, the author described how he significantly enhanced interaction and validity of research findings through humanization.
Since the whole article is about the author’s experiences with students, he supports empiricism epistemologies that rely on experiences. According to Grix (2002), empiricism is an epistemology that relies on experience as the foundation of knowledge (p.179).
Thus, the outstanding overreliance of the author on personal experiences shows that he is an empiricist. Specifically, the author bases his assertions on reality of experiences observed while interacting with students; thus, he is a realist. Hence, the article perception of humanization of the research process has its basis in empiricism and realism.
The theoretical framework of the article is empiricism, which asserts that knowledge emanates from empirical studies or personal experiences. Based on empiricism framework, the article delved into experiences of the author concerning the essence of humanization in a multiethnic and schooling environment.
Evidently, the whole article deals with experiences of the author throughout the research period by outlining various interactions and relationships that proved to be effective in enhancing validity of the research. The researcher narrates how he interacted effectively with students during the period of research, for he employed humanizing methodologies of research that aided dialogic process of interaction.
Grix (2002) asserts that, common sense and reality form part of experiences in epistemology of empiricism (p.180). Therefore, the article examines the author’s experiences, which show that he employed empirical framework to elucidate his arguments.
Given that empiricism and realism are part of the theoretical framework, the researcher assumed that his experiences are reliable and replicable in multicultural schools. Through empiricism and realism, the author theorized that culture, ethnicity and power influence an effective research process since oppression and marginalization limits interaction and development of relationships.
The research is a qualitative form of research that uses ethnographic approach in determining ways of humanizing research processes. The ethnographic approach entails collection of data in a social environment, in the form of observations and interviews. Through observations and interview, scientists obtain relevant data that enable understanding of social issues that a research seeks to solve.
Since the problem in the research was improving the effectiveness of the research process and validity of its findings, the article supports the view that humanization of research methodology is an effective way of enhancing validity of findings. In ethnographic approach, researchers focus on studying social variables over a long period.
The research in the article took about a year where the author examined how social, cultural, ethnical and linguistic factors influenced dialogic process of research. Thus, the article presents how the author interacted with students during the period of research and explains how relationship between teachers and students enhanced dialogic process of research that encourages interviews and observations.
Strategies of collecting and interpreting data from an ethnographic study mainly involve interview and participant observation. The author participated actively in conducting the interview and observation among students throughout the year to establish how South Vista High students interact.
The interviews sought to establish how ethnical, social, cultural and linguistic aspects of students influence their interaction with teachers, researchers and even strangers. Moreover, participation observation was another strategy that the article utilized in assessing behaviors of participants.
Participation observation was a dominant strategy because the author actively interacted with students while making observations; thus, the author was both a participant and observer at the same time.
The article falls under chronotope III, which perceives knowledge as a social construct linked to power of relations. Broadly, chronotope III deals with consciousness, skepticism, and praxis. In a social environment, chronotope III holds that dialogic processes enhance individual consciousness and emergence of truth.
Since chronotope III assumes that the truth lies in a person, it views that conscietization is the best way of unmasking reality and enhancing social relationships. With regard to praxis, chronotope III perceives that reciprocal relationships exist between knowledge and theory, hence warrant humanization of research methodology.
According to Kamberelis and Dimitriadis (2005), in qualitative research, chronotopes are historical inquiries that consist of natural experiences of social scientists (p.25). Thus, the author examined own experiences in terms of social, cultural and ethnical factors over a period. The article examines how oppression and marginalization occur in a multicultural environment and affect effective research process.
The article asserts that, observation and interview are considerable methodological approaches of research; however, they are subject to ethnical, cultural, and social prejudices that limit effective interaction of participants. Thus, humanization of social and cultural factors in research enhances relationship between researchers and participants.
The article used and criticized other elements in the literature regarding humanization of research methodology. The article quoted Paulo Freire who asserted that relationship between teachers and the student is oppressive because of power differences. Moreover, the article utilized a number of literature reviews that showed that social and ethnic issues affect relationships between teachers and students.
Thus, the author used literature as the basis of conducting research to establish whether humanization of research methodology enhances its validity. Given that literature review confirms that social and ethnic factors affect the validity of interviews and observations, the author extends the research through humanization.
To study humanization approach, the qualitative research involved personal experiences of the researcher throughout the year while interacting with students of South Vista High. Thus, humanization of research methodology was the objective of the article in enhancing effectiveness and validity of research.
Finally, humanization of research is imperative in enhancing the relationship between researchers and participants. The article has effectively demonstrated that relationships between researchers and participants determine not only ethical nature of the research process but also validity of the information. Relationships between teachers and students can be oppressive, thus limiting effective interaction.
Moreover, multiethnic schools are also prone to ethnic or racial prejudice that causes marginalization of other students. Hence, under aforementioned oppressive and marginalizing environment, research cannot be effective because students have many reservations that significantly affect the validity of the findings.
Therefore, humanization of research methodology process is particularly essential in enhancing dialogic consciousness, building trustworthy relationships, and interactions that are robust for effective research.
Grix, J. (2002). Introducing Students to the Generic Terminology of Social Research. Politics, 22(3), 175-186.
Kamberelis, G., & Dimitriadis, G. (2005). On qualitative Inquiry: Approaches to Language and Literacy Research. New York: Teachers College Press.
Paris, D. (2011). A friend who Understand Fully: Notes on humanizing Research In a Multiethnic Youth Community. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 24(2), 137-149.