Conceptualizing the mediating role of power asymmetries in research communication: A social representations approach
SourceCulture and Psychology
Google Scholar check
MetadataShow full item record
While the issue of power within the research relationship has been evoking constructive discussions for over two decades in qualitative research, existing approaches fail to understand power both as macro-socially determined and interpersonally negotiated in the micro-space of research communication. In this article, I use ideas from Social Representations Theory (SRT) to conceptualize the macro-social conditions that give meaning to power asymmetries expressed through the identities in the micro-space of the research relationship and to examine how these identities and their power asymmetries mediate research communication. Three instances of research between a local researcher and immigrant participants are analyzed. Analysis shows that the identities of a Greek researcher and immigrant participants introduce power asymmetries in the research communication due to the meanings they carry in the Greek social context. These asymmetries mediate communication by evoking reflection, challenge, resistance and reversal of positions. It is suggested that this double micro and macro focus achieved through SRT contributes to qualitative methodology by inviting important questions regarding data construction (under which identities are data constructed, how are they constructed and why are they constructed in such a way) and by advancing an epistemologically reflective stance to research. Further, the present approach contributes to SRT by advancing a power-inclusive understanding of interpersonal dynamics, which is considered underdeveloped by SR theorists. © The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav.