Studying economic institutions, placing cultural politics: methodological musings from a study of ethnic minority enterprise

Raghuram, Parvati and Strange, Adam (2001). Studying economic institutions, placing cultural politics: methodological musings from a study of ethnic minority enterprise. Geoforum, 32(3) pp. 377–388.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0016-7185(01)00007-0

Abstract

In most studies, the politics of race is presented as bi-polar, privileging the relationship between a dominant White majority and non-White minority groups. In this paper we outline some of the methodological problems that we faced in our research in Leicester, a city where 71% of the population identified themselves as White, 23% Indian, 1% Pakistani and 1.5% Black Caribbean at the last Census. Our research aimed to study ethnic minority businesses in Leicester, but from the beginning we were faced with Leicester's Asian business success stories and we soon became conscious of the invisibility of African–Caribbean businesses and the problems that they faced as a minority within a minority in the city. This paper focuses on the ways in which the ethnic mix of Leicester as a place influenced our study, and the methodological problems that ensued from conducting a study on economic processes where the meanings of the key terms ‘ethnicity', ‘enterprise' and ‘entrepreneurship' serve to obscure the business stories of some to privilege others. The paper thus argues for a shift in our focus of interest from issues of research method towards the more holistic term ‘research practice'.

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