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CORe & GreenBook: Goodbye to Stereotypes – Designing Research That is Effective, Fair and Empowering

A CORe & GreenBook Collab | Written by Sania Haq, Head of Research at AudienceNet

Research plays a powerful role in giving lesser-heard groups a platform to represent themselves. Here is a handy guide for addressing biases, blind spots, and additional important sampling/data collection considerations for valid and effective results.

Since I can remember, I have been fascinated by intercultural matters, particularly in relation to race, ethnicity, and religion. It sounds quite abstract, so I don’t blame you for wondering what this actually means. Let’s start there!

Broadly, “culture” refers to social norms, customs, beliefs, and other factors that influence the attitudes and behaviours of a given population. It is layered and multi-faceted, meaning nuances can emerge across the group (e.g., by country of origin, city, age). Intercultural matters could therefore be anything from cross-group interactions (e.g., social cohesion), to assessing if, how, and why social and economic outcomes differ.

I suppose I first became interested in this area because, being from a minority ethnic background, you are often (consciously or subconsciously) aware of and even part of different cultures. There can, of course, be challenges and it’s great to see these increasingly being discussed. But straddling cultures can also be a powerful place, one where you come to appreciate similarities and can help to highlight them. Broadening my knowledge out from lived experiences to intercultural matters across the world was the focus of my academic studies.

Research (methods) formed part of my MSc in International Public Policy and it was then that I became passionate about the role it can play in the intercultural space. More specifically, empowering lesser-heard groups (e.g., ethnic and religious minorities), by providing a platform to represent themselves. Too often, their perspectives are not widely heard nor understood, and thus do not inform decision-making that impacts them. Moreover, even when they are heard, the narrative is often focused on subgroups or formulated by third parties. As such, this can lead to misunderstandings and the perpetuation of restrictive, and often harmful, stereotypes.

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