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Reflexive Analysis and the Insider Dynamic

By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Political Science and International Relations
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Ontario Works is a provincial income assistance program of last resort operating under a workfare policy structure. Other Ontario Works research highlights the predominately oppressive practices and power structures between workers and recipients. As an Ontario Works Administrator conducting research with Ontario Works staff and recipients, I was mindful of my privileged position and my responsibility to be aware of and responsive to the power dynamics in my relationship with the research participants. In designing the research project, I searched for tools and approaches that would allow these power dynamics to be identified, explored, and shared as part of the project. I chose to foreground participants’ experiences by using reflexive approaches in conducting interviews with clients and staff (casemanagers, supervisors, managers, and administrators), as well during the analysis of policy directives in my research project that explored the work of workfare. Practitioners using reflexive approaches can enhance the connection between policy design and its lived experience, that is, reflexive analysis facilitates an action approach to research. Using reflexive approaches requires that the researcher be purposeful in making connections which can create a shared space where the researcher and the participant share a story. However, listening to be heard is a nuanced approach and the researcher must ensure that reflexivity is a way to ensure accountability not only for the outcome but, more importantly, for the process of the research project itself.

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