“We were, we told ourselves, too close to the work” (Paris & Winn, 2014). I have told myself this many times in relation to my job. In my opinion, it is a hazard of being a teacher. It is difficult to find the balance between work and home. This probably has a great deal to do with why so many teachers burn out within the first five years. I don’t envision a researcher as having such problems. In the past I have typically thought of a researcher as one who is serious, precise, objective and disconnected. Prior to starting this program, I was trying to determine what I wanted to research. I had a difficult time because I felt I was overly passionate about the things I wanted to research, but on the other hand I did not want to research a subject that I was dispassionate about; I imagine that would become tedious. “We have not paid significant attention to these feelings, yet they persist and continue to shape our work” (Paris & Winn, 2014). When reading through research articles, it appears that the common approach to research is to be detached, in order to be objective.
In Renato Rosaldo’s book, Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis, he discusses the difference “between the technical idiom of ethnography and the language of everyday life” (1994). Rosaldo gives multiple examples in his book of daily life being described in Ethnographic terms. Each time I feel as though the researcher in the example has no idea what they are talking about because all emotion has been taken out of play. It leaves the description sounding idiotic. One example Rosaldo gives is Horace Mann’s paper, “Nacirema”. I had read it in elementary school and I remember being a little disturbed and thinking Nacirema people were barbaric. When I found out it was actually about Americans I was shocked and thought it was the funniest thing I had ever heard. It became a joke to speak in such a manner.
People are emotional; they have joy, grief, anger…etc. When emotion is taken out of the equation daily actions seem a little crazy. I understand that the purpose is to stay distanced, but people research with purpose. “I want to emphasis…research carried out by anyone is a political-historical process.(Lave, 2012) Regardless of whether one expects their research to have an impact, it does, in some aspect have an influence on society. As quoted by Lave, research is political. It goes back to knowing the community and how the research will impact them. Paris and Winn discuss how emotions are used to modify policies. “The fear of terrorist violence of ‘illegal aliens’ taking U.S. jobs, of prisoners using tax dollars…all help to justify expanding the punitive arm of the state” (Paris & Winn, 2014). My purpose in researching is to initiate change within my community. The keyword throughout these readings seems to be balance. One must be aware how their emotions, passions and desires affect them in order to keep bias from impacting the results of their research. However, it is our passions that drive us. Additionally, remembering that the community you are studying is made up of people and that the purpose of the research is to create a better world for them. Once we lose sight of that, there is no point in continuing to research.
Lave, J. (2012). Changing practice. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 19(2), 156–171. doi:10.1080/10749039.2012.666317
Paris, D., & Winn, M. T. (2014). Humanizing Research (p. 277). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.
Rosaldo, R. (1994). Culture and truth: The remaking of social analysis (pp. 1–52). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.