Session 6

SMUSI_06- Culturally Sensitive Approaches – Potential New Directions of Empirical Research

Empirical research in the Global South should be implemented using a complex set of methodological tools to value the hidden dimensions of culture and to analyze cultural phenomena on location in a sophisticated way. With “culture”, we refer to shared value orientations, language patterns and worldviews within social groups as well as to the so-called deeply rooted symbols guiding the behaviour of certain communities. For culturally sensitive researchers, the acquisition of cultural knowledge is of utmost importance to accurately interpret our results and to strive for a better understanding of local living conditions. When we simply choose quantitative approaches (such as cross-national surveys) we seek to predict, compare and generalize results but we often face limits to account for local complexities, power relations and concrete live experiences. A culturally sensitive research design thus means to be open to methods triangulation (especially favouring mixed-methods studies), to researcher´s triangulation (to strengthen the de-westernization of dominant research paradigms) and to multi-sited research. We can only understand local culture when we aim for multi-staged research and when we learn to see the content of the research through the eyes of others. Especially in the intercultural field, building bridges in data interpretation is of great importance. Without collaborative efforts, we are inclined to misinterpret data. In this session, we want to reflect on best practice examples on how to deal with cultural specificities in the Global South in general and in Asian countries in particular. We are open to empirical approaches following the quantitative logic highlighting issues such as political and social values or quality of life, wellbeing and sustainability (among many others). But we also encourage qualitative researchers to contribute to this session because interpretative paradigms may offer greater possibilities to build locally grounded-theories or to refer to multiple (cultural) realities which are embedded in certain communities. We specifically welcome abstracts and papers, focusing on contradictions when it comes to an intercultural dialogue of research findings or certain limits communicating emic research initiatives from the Global South to a wider public. Therefore the session tries to enhance a critical intercultural dialogue on methods and aims to identify culturally sensitive research. Dealing with those issues has the potential to enrich western-biased discourses and to create emancipatory knowledge for local researchers.