Qualitative Research in Cross-cultural & Non-Western Settings

22 Mar 2023

Qualitative Research in Cross-cultural and Non-Western Settings: Ethical and Methodological Approaches and Challenges

Speaker: Professor Divya Sharma, Western Connecticut State University  

Introduction from Dr Derek Clifford, Co-Editor of Ethics and Social Welfare 

Respondent: Dr Claire Dorrity, School of Applied Social Studies, UCC  


The edited volume, Ethics, Ethnocentrism, and Social Science Research (2022; Routledge) covers a wide range of ethical and methodological challenges that a researcher may face. Drawing from various themes covered in the book, this presentation spotlights these issues while using qualitative research methods. It specifically examines studying sensitive behaviors in cross-cultural and non-western settings. It begins with highlighting these challenges in collecting data from refugees living in Jodhpur, India. Studies on such topics of violence, displacement, loss, and trauma may pose emotional concerns both for the researcher and respondents. The researchers may also use a pre-set or even preferred lens to frame topics of crime, justice, and victimization raising concerns about validity and ethics. This presentation explores the issues related to harm to subjects, voluntary participation, gatekeepers, ethnocentrism, helicopter researchers, cultural sensibilities, authenticity, and so on as considered in qualitative research. Field research often generates rich individual narratives that carry strong internal validity, but these need to be presented critically and carefully to avoid overgeneralizations while operating within ethical boundaries. Lastly, it emphasizes the need for researchers to remain humble in their endeavours, no matter what the methodology or the topic.  

This online seminar is co-hosted by the ISS21 Research for Civil Society and Social Action (REACT) Research Cluster, the UCC Ethics Committee and the School of Applied Social Studies Research Committee.

A recording of the webinar is available here



Divya Sharma is Professor of Justice and Law Administration at the Western Connecticut State University. She has a Ph.D. in Sociology and two Masters degrees in Sociology and Criminal Justice. She is the editor of the book Ethics, Ethnocentrism, and Social Science Research (2022; Routledge). Divya's research interests include informal banking systems, visual criminology, criminology, and research ethics. She has collected data in India, Kenya, and the United States. Her recent projects include the Y.D.U. program at Garner Correctional Institution; G.R.E.A.T. program at Bridgeport Police Department’s Community Services Division; outsourced service sector, routine activities, and crime in Delhi; and refugees in western India. She’s consciously not a workaholic and takes time off to pursue her many interests outside academia.

Dr Claire Dorrity is a lecturer in social policy at the School of Applied Social Studies, UCC. Her main research interests include Migration Policy; Critical Multiculturalism; Border Securitisation; and Migrant Integration with a focus on decolonial, participatory and inclusive research methods. Her teaching interests include health inequalities; anti-racist and anti-discriminatory practice; cultural awareness and cultural competence in professional practice; and ethnocentrism and power hierarchies in cross-cultural settings. Claire is a committee member of the ISS21 Migration and Integration Research Cluster (ISS21), University of Sanctuary Executive Committee (UCC), Centre for Global Development Steering Committee (UCC) and Latin American Regional Working Group (UCC). Claire is the UCC academic lead in the Development MA in Superdiversity in Education, Organisations, and Society (UNIC) and a member of the Utrecht Taskforce on Responsible Internationalisation and Global Engagement. 

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