CAHSS Faculty Presentations, Proceedings, Lectures, and Symposia


Power, Equality, and Qualitative Fieldwork

Event Name

The Qualitative Report Second Annual Conference

Event Location

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA


Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Presentation Date


Date Range:

2011-01-07 to 2011-01-08


There are many levels of unequal power at play in qualitative field research. This is particularly true when researching in economically challenged rural communities. On one hand, the researchers have more money, more formal education, access to technology and have traveled more. Researchers also have the benefit of being the initiator and designer of the research. On the other hand, participants have the local knowledge, the connections, and the perspectives that researchers are seeking. Where the researchers are from also plays into this power equation. Is the researcher from outside of the research area, or is the researcher originally from the research area? All of these issues present differing power relationships between researcher and participants. A crucial question is how much equality or balance can truly be achieved between researcher and participants? What are the implications of this for researcher, for subject, and for the research itself? Finally, is there a relationship between equalizing the process of research and equalizing the outcomes of research? These subjects and questions will be addressed by four researchers who work on various projects among campesinos in rural Veracruz, Mexico and among rural inhabitants of Ghana, West Africa.