State your research question in a way that clearly highlights the discourse, practice, process, identity, etc. that you propose to study [this will depend on whether you choose discourse analysis or ethnographic research].
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The Colombian Conflict lasted for over half a century, and its effects extended to all aspects of people’s lives. Nevertheless, few research studies are available that would overview how such an extensive political discourse affected the social world of the region. The main research question for this study is, therefore, as follows: In what ways did the Colombian Conflict affect the lives of local residents?
Make sure to re-work and state your research question in a way that draws attention to the context surrounding the issue that you wish to study. In order to do this, you can add a few sentences (in addition to your question) to introduce your topic that would offer some background or context and offer some insight into the significance of the question (make sure to cite any sources). Generally speaking, interpretivist work aims to clarify how some discourse, social process, cultural practices, identities, etc. have been constructed and reproduced and/or how it affects or is affected by the social world (this is very different than the cause-effect type questions we have studied to date!).
Literature Review: Existing Scholarship
[in bullet point form list the following and make sure to cite any sources]:
- Bodies of literature you would pull together for this project. Identify and describe each body of literature—what does it offer your project? Justify your decisions and offer specific examples.
Scholarly articles would be the main body of literature studied in this research, as they can provide an unbiased overview of the effect of the Conflict on certain aspects of life in the region. For instance, an article by Dube and Vargas explores the link between the armed conflict, commodity prices, and citizens’ revenues (1384). Rodriguez and Sanchez explore the effect that the Conflict had on education and child labor, which are also important factors in the overall social welfare of the region (161).
I would also use reports from government organizations, both local and international, as supplementary materials, as they would help to understand the scale of the influence of certain factors on people’s lives.
- Any major changes to the literature review segment of your project such as new literature that you have read, new insights derived in applying the literature to interpretivist qualitative research, etc.? Why have you made these changes? Justify your decisions and offer specific examples.
Interpretivist research allows to identify more complicated relationships between the Conflict and its social outcomes. For example, Rodriquez and Sanchez not only show the increase in drop-out rates among teenagers as a result of the discourse, but also suggest ways in which armed conflict exposure could trigger drop-outs.
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- How does your project contribute to the broader scholarly discussion you outline here? (What gap in that conversation is your research project filling?)
As I searched for articles on the topic, I found that the vast majority of the articles overviewing the social implications of the Conflict were written in 2000s, whereas the recent articles only focused on certain aspects of people’s lives (work, health, education, etc.). My study would provide a comprehensive overview of how the civilians’ lives were affected over the entire course of the Conflict.
Scope of analysis
For your interpetivist research sketch, please briefly address each of the following:
- Object of Study [In a few sentences or in bullet-point form]: Explain which discourse(s), social practices, identities, representations, or processes you are seeking to understand. Be specific. Main object of study is the impact of extensive inner conflict on all aspects of people’s lives. Minor objects of study would include the economy of the region, job market, commodity prices, education levels, health, and demographic factors (income, homelessness, etc.).
- Context [In a short paragraph]: What is the broader context of your object of study (you can address whatever historical, political, social, cultural, or economic aspects that may be relevant to this context here)? Be as specific as possible. The main context that will be explored is the political environment of the region throughout the years. An assessment of the influence of the Conflict in various contexts (political, economical, cultural, demographic) is essential to determine the mechanisms by which it affected the population.
- Actors [In a few sentences or in bullet-point form]: who are the actors producing or affected by the discourse(s) or social practice(s) that you are studying? Is there an implicit or explicit hierarchy among these actors? Explain. The two main actors affecting the discourse are the Colombian government and the guerrilla group FARC. Both sides had a significant influence on the course of the Conflict and can either mediate its effects or create more complications. The main actors affected by the discourse, on the other hand, are the civilians. Generally, vulnerable populations are more influenced by the political and economic changes of the region than those with stable incomes. Therefore, the vulnerable populations of Colombia are the main actors affected by the Conflict, and most of the research will be focused on them.
Methodology for data collection and analysis
[In bullet point form]:
Please address where you will look for manifestations of your object of study
Which texts would you make a part of your study (give concrete examples)? Why? Justify decisions and cite sources.
Vargas’ article explores the reasons for the long duration of the Conflict (203). This source would be useful in analyzing the overall course of the Conflict, providing more historical and political context for the study.
Dube and Vargas offer a valuable insight into the changing economy of the region and the effect it had on the local communities (Dube and Vargas 1384), which makes the article an important source of information about economy and job market of Columbia.
Rodriguez and Sanchez’ article adds to the exploration of the effects that armed conflict exposure had on the general populations by addressing the issues of low education levels and child labor (161).
Bell et al. propose another point of view on the discourse by evaluating the mental health of people living in active conflict zones (10). Mental health is an important aspect affecting people’s quality of life, and thus the article can add to the exploration of the influence of Conflict on regular citizens.
Are they written, spoken, practiced, or some combination thereof?
All of the sources used are written sources (articles, reports, etc.).
What are the positions in the discourse you can identify and will want to explore further? Any identifiable dominant positions? Any identifiable alternative or challenging positions?
The body of research tends to agree that the impact of the Conflict on the civilians was profound. However, the articles offer different ways of reversing the harm and propose different solutions that can also be evaluated in the study.
Which techniques for collection and analysis do you propose for your study? Be specific and explain how these techniques will help you address your question.
The collection of information for this study will be performed using secondary research technique, as this will allow to gather different aspects of research and different viewpoints of the issue in one analysis. In order to analyze the articles and reports obtained, I will use content analysis, which will allow to interpret the authors’ findings and determine the right way of applying them to the topic.
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Address how you will pursue a more in-depth, holistic study of your topic (think about the question of inter-textuality or triangulation here).
The main way of gathering in-depth information that I will use is the analysis of different articles on similar topics. This will allow to address a wider scope of findings in the study. In addition, if certain findings are similar in two or more researchers, it would show their validity and reliability.
Concluding thoughts [In a few sentences for each]:
Did you have to modify your research questions to develop this research design? If so, how / why? What did you learn?
No, my research question was designed in accordance with the interpetivist approach. I have learned that the interpretivist research allows for a deeper understanding of the underlying forces that govern the relationship between a discourse and its social implications.
Reflexivity and positionality: how much distance do you have from the discourse(s) or practices, or in the case of ethnography, from the social groups you propose to research? Is this helpful or an obstacle? How will your own positions as a researcher affect the proposed research?
Neither the discourse not its implications apply to me to the same extent as they affect the Colombians. I believe that this would help me in this study by ensuring that my view of the events and their effects is objective. However, it can also limit my analysis of the topic, as I may not be aware of certain cultural or social implications of the Conflict.
Any other comments, observations, or remaining questions?
[Include here a few sentences commenting on the tradeoffs you have noticed between this approach and the first research approach we studied] Contrary to the large-N design, the current research allows to explore and analyze individual changes in the communities instead of studying the average values. This would help to enhance the depth of the study and examine more aspects of the chosen topic.
Bell, Vaughan, et al. “Characteristics of the Colombian Armed Conflict and the Mental Health of Civilians Living in Active Conflict Zones.” Conflict and Health, vol. 6, no. 1, 2012, pp. 10-17.
Dube, Oeindrila, and Juan F. Vargas. “Commodity Price Shocks and Civil Conflict: Evidence from Colombia.” The Review of Economic Studies, vol. 80, no. 4, 2013, pp. 1384-1421.
Rodriguez, Catherine, and Fabio Sanchez. “Armed Conflict Exposure, Human Capital Investments, and Child Labor: Evidence from Colombia.” Defence and Peace Economics, vol. 23, no.2, 2012, pp. 161-184.
Vargas, Juan F. “The Persistent Colombian Conflict: Subnational Analysis of the Duration of Violence.” Defence and Peace Economics, vol. 23, no. 2, 2012, pp. 203-223.