Walking upright here : countering prevailing discourses through reflexivity and methodological pluralism : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Nursing at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
Knowledge development takes place in the context of competing political, social and economic frameworks that often reflect dominant group values, practises and ideologies. Research scholarship needs to include and legitimate knowledge construction from different locations and epistemologies. Where research occurs with minority groups it is suggested that multiple research strategies are incorporated in order to prevent the reproduction of deficiency discourses. Such strategies could include self-reflexivity and the use of methodological pluralism, incorporating appropriate methodologies that can be used to expose and dismantle hegemonic discourses. A research exemplar is used that features the dual transition of migration and motherhood for women from Goa, India who are now living in New Zealand. This is done to illustrate the applicability of reflexivity and methodological pluralism in countering the hegemonic deficiency discourse associated with migrant women. The qualitative approach that was used privileges culture and locates the participants in their historical and cultural contexts. Goan women were interviewed about their migration history, their adjustment to living in New Zealand and experiences of childbirth and motherhood in a new country. The use of alternative creative and innovative conceptions of methodology that allow for the emergence of undetermined discursive spaces between different lines of inquiry, within which the authentic voices of participants might lodge and be heard is advocated. Without such strategies research that purports to represent the experiences of a particular group risks reproducing the processes of subordination that devalue certain groups while holding in place the needs and aspirations of a privileged few. The findings of the exemplar challenge monolithic essentialising representations of migrant women associated with discourses that position them as backward, passive and deficient. This thesis advances the discussion on what it means to construct knowledge of social practices within a multi-ethnic environment in order that the voice of the 'other' can be heard.