Below are some questions to help guide our discussion about the film 49up and Gang Leader for a Day. (I may have gone a little overboard on these questions)
In terms of depth and detail—he certainly got a lot of detail—but Venkatesh wasn’t subject to exactly the same conditions as the people in the Robert Taylor Houses? To what extent was his understanding of the lives of the people somewhat limited? He didn’t try to live or experience the day-to-day experiences of these people looking for work, poverty, etc. Is this an issue?
Did Venkatesh “choose sides”?
How would you describe the ethical implications of Venkatesh and JT’s relationship?
Do you think Venkatesh’s presence had any effect on different situations? As time went on, how does his role change and what does that mean in the research? Is the research more about the researcher than the researched?
- Was it easy to understand? Why do you think there were some moments of confusion for us? What does that tell you about context?
- How did the film maker gain access to the subjects?
- What were some of the ethics involved?
- Do you think the participants are paid? Should we pay them?
- To what extent do you think the filmmaker (Michael Apted) influenced the film and its participants (particularly the portrayal of these people)?
Gang Leader for a Day
- What things made Gang Leader for a Day easier to understand for us?
- How did Venkatesh gain access? (ethnicity & sponsorship by JT)
- How does his access effect outcomes—his research? By aligning and gaining access through JT—does it limit the types of information and people who will talk to him?
- In terms of recording data—how did Venkatesh record data? How does this effect reliability and validity?
- This is an extensive debate—generally, given the time that is involved in participant observation, qualitative data tends to be highly valid—but less reliable…similarly research that is very reliable tends to be less valid…
- It’s doubtful that JT would have allowed Venkatesh to record him, so interviews were unlikely to have been transcribed…but even if we transcribe something, does that make things clearer or less clear? Should we aim for capturing the spirit of the conversation vs. every little word?