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Life in the labyrinth: a reflexive exploration of research and politics
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Culture and Media.
2002 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is about exploring the politics within and around research. The starting point is a European project which ran from late 1997 to the end of 2000. It was called "Self-employment activities concerning women and mi­norities: their success or failure in relation to social citizenship policies" and had as its objective to provide the EU-Commission with recommendations for improved self-employment policies. Background material was comple­mented by interviews with "experts", but the main source of information was in the form of biographical interviews with the self-employed, or for­merly self-employed, themselves. The qualitative method was used as a way of researching how individuals' background and experiences influenced their decision to become self-employed as well as their tendency to use labour market policies available for starting businesses. It was also a way to find out how those policies impacted on the individuals' lives. The conse­quent recommendations included a suggestion for broadening existing policies to comprise social aspects as well as financial allowances, and also the caution that self-employment was perhaps not the best solution to labour market and social exclusion.

This latter doubt arose during project work, as did questions about methodology, the role of the researcher, and eventually about the politics that inform research. Only briefly touched upon in the project reports, these issues instead became the basis for the thesis. A reflexive rereading of the Final Report led to a critical examination of the political uses of con­cepts and categories, of how stereotypes affect research, and of the embeddedness in ethnocentric discourses of both research and researcher. The use of postcolonial and feminist theory, discourse analysis and a social constructionist perspective broadened the analytical possibilities and fur­thered understanding of the connections between politics and research. A conclusion is that a comprehensive change in the social order as well as in people's conscience is required to stem ethnic discrimination in society and the perpetuation of stereotypes and preconstructed categories in research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet , 2002. , 189 p.
Etnologiska skrifter, ISSN 1103-6516 ; 28
Keyword [en]
labour market policies, self-employment, immigrant women, discrimination, politics, research, reflexivity, gender, ethnicity, ethnocentrism
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-59790ISBN: 91-7305-274-4OAI: diva2:556620
Public defence
2002-05-30, Humanisthuset, hörsal E, Umeå universitet, Ume¨å, 10:00
Available from: 2012-09-25 Created: 2012-09-25 Last updated: 2013-02-25Bibliographically approved

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