Who: Asking the right people, the wrong questions in the wrong places

There is a lot of money spent on “research” which supposedly tells us, for example, why poor people are poor and why they can’t get/work themselves out of their personal tragedies. Many times, this type of research – often commissioned by the powerful who want to obfuscate why they are poor and don’t want too much detail in reporting – arrives at convenient conclusions which explain their destitution as their own fault, their lack of personal ambition and absence of individual gumption. Easy reasoning for the policymakers and politicians to continue the complete dismantling of the social security system so that these people, very often in fragile and vulnerable circumstances, are required to show continual personal application in the resolution of their own problems. Almost none of this research – which is almost always highly numerical – deals with the real structural impediments affect how they make decisions. Increasingly, these studies fail to ask the most basic question of why and even if they do their use of quantitative methodologies prohibit deviation from survey responses that are already designed and encourage the participants to abstain from detail. In addition, a significant number of these studies with these people are undertaken in clinical conditions or contexts which inhibit a participant’s trust and confidence in sharing personal information. In short, these studies ask the right people, the wrong questions in the wrong places and this generates a disfigured reality; one which is not representative of the participants lifeworld nor of the terrain which surrounds them on a daily basis.

  • Alternative Vista believes that finding out about why people do what they do is related to establishing a trust with them, getting to know them, avoiding potential influence on what they say or think, and, in the process, learning about them and how they think to be able to provide a more accurate representation of their circumstances.