Wilson (2008). On the Research Journey. (Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods.)

Wilson, S. (2008). On the Research Journey. In Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods (pp. 22–42). Black Point, NS: Fernwood Publishing.

[“Beginning My Research Saga” (p 22) …]

“All stories reflect the storyteller and where they are in their lives. A problem with writing down stories is that it makes it very difficult to change them as we gain new learning and insights.” (p 22)

“… it is imperative to relational accountability that as a researcher I form a respectful relationship with the ideas that I am studying.” (p 22)

“How is it that spirituality is so important to Indigenous people when western society has so distanced itself from anything spiritual?” (p 29)

[“Researcher Background — Introducing the Storyteller” (p 32) …]

“I present the information in this study in a way that is more culturally appropriate for Indigenous people by taking the role of storyteller rather than researcher/author.” (p 32)

[“Definition of Terms” (p 33) …]

[“Research Paradigm” (p 33) …]

[“Ontology” (p 33) …]

“Ontology is the theory of the nature of existence, or the nature of reality. … Ontology is thus asking, ‘What is real?'” (p 33)

[“Epistemology” (p 33) …]

“Epistemology is the study of the nature of thinking or knowing. … ‘How do I know what is real?'” (p 33)

[“Methodology” (p 34) …]

“Methodology refers to the theory of how knowledge is gained, or in other words the science of finding things out. … Methodology is thus asking, ‘How do I find out more about this reality?'” (p 34)

[“Axiology” (p 34) …]

“Axiology is the ethics or morals that guide the research for knowledge and judge which information is worthy of searching for. … Axiology is thus asking, ‘What part of this reality is worth finding out more about?’ and ‘What is it ethical to do in order to gain this knowledge, and what will this knowledge be used for?'” (p 34)

[“Indigenous” (p 34) …]

“Indigenous is used throughout this book to refer to the people and peoples who identify their ancestry with the original inhabitants of Australia, Canada and other countries worldwide. … The term Indigenous has important implications politically, as in the face of colonization we assert our collective rights as self-determining peoples at an international level.” (p 34)

[“Dominant” (p 35) …]

“Dominant is used as an adjective to describe the culture of European-descended and Eurocentric, Christian, heterosexist, male-dominated Canada or Australia.” (p 35)

[“How I Searched for an Answer to the Question” (p 35) …]

[“Overview of the Dominant Research Paradigms” (p 35) …]

“In the first edition of the Handbook of Qualitative Research, Guba and Lincoln have categorized four of the major research paradigms as positivism, post-positivism, critical theory and constructivism.” (p 35)

“Positivism espouses the view that there is one true reality that can be broken down into overriding laws. The epistemology that goes along with this belief is that through objective thought, it should be possible to discover this one reality. … Newton’s law of motion is a good example of an ontological belief in one reality tested through physics experiments to come up with a law that Newton believed to was an accurate description of reality. Much of early psychological experimentation may be seen as an attempt to come up with positivistic laws of human behaviour.” (p 36)

“… post-positivism, has its main difference in that while believing in one ultimate reality, it sees research and researchers as imperfect tools that will never allow this one reality to be clearly seen.” (p 36)

“Critical theory offers an alternative to the positivist and post-positivist view in that it holds that reality is more fluid or plastic than one fixed truth. Critical theorists contend that reality has been shaped into its present form by our cultural, gender, social and other values.” (p 36)

“Constructivism takes the ontology of a fluid reality one step further in the belief that there is not merely one fluid reality, but many realities specific to the people and locations that hold them. Reality then is what you make it to be. The interaction between the investigator and the subjects is the key to this epistemology, with reality made up of socially constructed concepts that are shared.” (p 37)

“… four dominant paradigms … there is a common thread of thinking that runs through them. This commonality is that knowledge is seen as being _individual_ in nature. This is vastly different from the Indigenous paradigm, where knowledge is seen as belonging to the cosmos of which we are a part and where researchers are only the interpreters of this knowledge. This distinction in the ownership of knowledge is one major difference between the dominant and Indigenous paradigms …” (p 38)

[“Strategy of Inquiry” (p 39) …]

“… the differences between methodology, strategies of inquiry and methods.” (p 39)

“Denzin and Lincoln (1994) describe qualitative research as ‘multimethod in focus, involving an interpretive, naturalistic approach to its subject mat- [page break] ter.’ As this Indigenous research project utilized qualitative methods and as qualitative research by its definition has no single focus, it may be appropriate to change the traditional positivistic language of ‘research methods’ to look more at ‘strategies of inquiry.'” (p 40)

“Being a participant observer allowed me to take a more action-oriented approach to the research (Heller, Price, Reinharz, Riger and Wandersman, 1984) and put emphasis on the face-to-face relationships and sharing of daily living experiences (Gans, 1982).” (p 40)

“Wilson and Wilson (2000) describe the talking circle … (p. 11)” (p 41)

“It is important to remember that I was looking for the meaning of why and how Indigenous people relate to things (research), rather than looking for a causal relationship between things.” (p 41)

“It would be giving away the power of an Indigenous research paradigm to say that it needs to be justified by a dominant paradigm.” (p 42)

Selected References

  • Denzin, N., and Lincoln, Y. (1994). Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Gans, H. (1982). The Participant Observer as a Human Being: Observation on the Personal Aspects of Fieldwork. In R. Gurgess (Ed.), Field Research: Sourcebook and Field Manual. London: Allen and Unwin.
  • Guba, E., and Lincoln, Y. (1994). Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research. In Denzin, N. and Lincoln Y. (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Heller, K., Price, R., Reinharz, S, Riger, S. and Wandersman, A. (1984). Psychology and community change: Challenges of the future. Chicago: Dorsey Press.
  • Wilson, S. and Wilson, P. (2000). Circles in the Classroom: The Cultural Significance of Structure. Canadian Social Studies 32(2), 11-12.
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