Towards a political economy of the use of research assistants: reflections from fieldwork in Tanzania and Mozambique

Deane, Kevin and Stevano, Sara (2016). Towards a political economy of the use of research assistants: reflections from fieldwork in Tanzania and Mozambique. Qualitative Research, 16(2) pp. 213–228.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794115578776

Abstract

Research assistants play a vital role in the research process, often acting as more than just translators or interpreters. However, their contributions to and impacts on the research process and outcomes often remain unacknowledged or unaccounted for. We build on previous work that looks at the subjective relations between the researcher, research assistant and research participant to explore this issue. In particular, drawing on a political economy approach, we look at how research assistants, through their objective position, mediate relations between researcher and participants, and also how power relations and different configurations of roles influence the research process and outcomes. Our analysis concludes that ignoring the role of research assistants in empirical research will lead to flawed processes, biased data and possibly misleading results.

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