Engaging Tactic, my companion.
What does Engagement Tactics mean to me in my research? While I have not thought about yet giving my results back (dissemination tactics!) I think about engaging tactics with other people during my research all the time.
One engagement tactic and the one I try to pursue, although it is not always easy is to imagine I enter into a relationship with the people I interview, no matter how long (re-interview, family visits, even friendships) or short lived (an interview or even a brief conversation) this relationship will be. This helps me to stay focused on which goals are important to pursue and which to abandon. What do I mean by that? I’d like to provide an example: In my first interviews, I interviewed a Gulag survivor, who spent 16 years in the Gulag. After the interview the family ( 4 generations lived together) invited me to stay for dinner. On the way back, in the car, I was thinking what if I were not invited, what if there were no family surrounding the old women? How would I have felt? Not at all the same. I knew she was in ‘good hands’, she was loved and respected. What if I came to an old women, living by herself? I would interview her because I ‘needed the interview’ and leave her on her own again? How would I feel about my research then? In fact the old women did ask me to come back to visit her, so far I haven’t been able to go, but how would I feel if I knew she was alone? These are all important questions that make you think about the people one comes into contact with through a frame of caring for them. So, to imagine this: would I not have interviewed her in this scenario I imagined as difficult? I don’t know. She was not at all a vulnerable old women. And how are researchers supposed to get information if they don’t interview because they have reservations and ethical dilemmas? Again, I believe to think about encounters with people through a framework of relationship here helps. I don’t know exactly what will come my way and I don’t set rules for my behavior prior to them but I try to act in a way that is best for everybody. I try to care for the people I meet and interview. But this care is of course limited and it is a realization that one has to make too. Different situations, require different strategies and decisions. To think about oneself as in a relationship, one will always be willing to learn anew.
It is of course one possible engagement tactic and there might be multiple tactics of how to engage in a single project. Engagement tactics are something I think about before the interview, during it , afterward in the analysis process. It is a constant companion.