Transformative Research Paradigm in Orality and Literacy

Categories: Qualitative


Exploring orality, oral tradition and literacy practices including ordinary experience, situated knowledge, continuity of experience, social construction of knowledge, and community as learning center my epistemic worldviews constructed to recognize the multiple realities. In this regard I would like to cite Hitchcock and Hughes (1989), “the basic ontological and epistemological assumption held by any researcher will shape the kind of methodology which those researchers will adopt (p. 15). In light of this light statement the following section will discuss my ontological and epistemological stance that underpins the methodology that I will adopt for my proposed research.  

Ontological and Epistemological Consideration

For me multiple realities of orality and oral tradition are un/observable phenomenon. I am therefore more inclined to assume that the social world perceived is actively constructed (Cohen et al., 2000, p. 21) On the basis of M. PHIL research, I aim to move around observing oral tradition of My people.  Orality for me was nothing more than propaganda before I visited the indigenous Tharu people to talk about the ways of learning. Later on I gradually am trying to recognize the oral tradition of Tharu women that appear visible to developing their literacy practices.  Similarly, the conflict between the literacy providers and receivers has been maintained in its history because of their expression either it is written or oral expression.  In this context I understand that their access of power and opportunity are expanded because of power of writing which is inseparable part of the literacy practices and of existing dualism such as il/literate, oral and writing the relation.  Furthermore, my ontological assumption concerns on the nature of the world and human being in social contexts of Tharu women, me and my understandings of literacy (Gautam, 2011, p. 18).

Believing Gergen’s (2009) ideas of social reality that is constructed by and between the persons who experience the world, I argue that creating reality in learning process is their oral communication rather than written expression. At this stage the reality(ies) are shaped by the oral expressions and tradition, however I do not mean that writing must be discarded to understand the social reality. Moreover, social construction derived by oral tradition may assist to understand literacy practices.  In this context, I begin to decolonize my understanding of written and oral expression and literacy as my own meaning making structures, my own interpretive strategies, and my own criteria for producing and consuming knowledge (Kincheloe, 2008, p. 29).  My epistemological assumption in a line of Kincheloe (2008) “ a critical complex epistemology helps us ask new questions, to develop new cognitive abilities, to see through the walls of colonialism and the ways the empire has shaped our interpretations of our own” (p. 250). 

Transformative (De/Colonizing) Research Paradigm

In relation with my epistemic understanding I will adapt this research under te transformative research paradigm, believing as Taylor (2010) “within a single paradigm research design space, the task of the (colonized) graduate research student is to ‘fill in the blanks’ of a methodological template, focusing mainly on quantitative data collection and analysis methods, supplemented perhaps by a qualitative research component” (p. 5). Transformative research paradigm will be useful for me to decolonize my understanding of literacy and orality.  On the other hand, a multi-paradigmatic research design space provides freedom of (well informed) choice and the potential for transformative research design.

Methodological Pluralism

Under the transformative research paradigm, multi methods approach will address my research question. This attempt may help me to overcome the challenges of the traditional qualitative research that were exclusively maintained in the academic world in Nepal. I will adapt critical self study, narrative inquiry, and performance ethnography for multiple methodological heuristics.

Critical Self Study

I will employ criticalism as Kincheloe (2008) focused on critical self-reflection which offers me an understanding of the significance of socio-cultural and socio-historical process of the construction of a dynamic self.  Likewise the nature of literacy pedagogy in which the self engages can be useful for changing the structure of reality.  I will employ primarily my experiences as a university student who understands literacy as restricted in writing expression.  For example, I critically reflected upon my roles as a university student who masked his own dissatisfaction about the traditional literacy practices focusing on the written expression. In this line I believe that conventional ethnography hardly address the dualism of orality and written expression. The conventional ethnography tends to uphold the status quo whereas critical ethnography tends to reinforce change in society depending on the critical theory.  Critical methods and theory get blended in ethnography in critical ethnography exploring the social “relations of dominations and alienation” (Robertson, 2005)

It is my desire to undertake literacy acts to transform the literacy spaces and acts of liberations beginning with self.  It seems keeping myself in the periphery of the research but it was dual in a sense that it moved back and ahead with Self/Other emphasizing dialectical logics.  I am a bit skeptic in that part “representation of ‘my participants and misgiving regarding generalizing theoretical programmes and practice” (Anderson, 2006, p. 377).

Narrative Enquiry

 I employ narrative inquiry to make visible the complexities that shape learning process of people under oral tradition which influence the nature of learners,

Who knows and what is known both within, and about, literacy process. €The approach allows exploratory studies to be pursued that take into account multiple clusters of stories, and many versions of stories narrated by multiple tellers. In the same line Barone (2007) opined that “conceptual ruptures were the genre blurrers” started with the third generation of qualitative research this appears as dissertation as novels (p. 459). Within them, and to ascertain the knowledge that educators construe from their embodied, embedded experiences.

Performance Ethnography

Orality of participants can be performed in various forms such as rituals, festivals, myths and day to day activities that explain the complex social structures.  I hope the voice of my participants reflects through short stories, photography enabled to provide a performative flavor of events in this research.  Performance ethnography, for Denzin (2003) is linked with the praxis in capacity to transpose researchers.  As a social critical researcher (to some extent) I advocated the inclusive literacy highlighting the issues of Orlaity and oral tradition.   Performance will enable me to depict silences of performers into new critical political spaces of cultural awareness and resistances (Madison, 1998).   

Quality Standards

As a transformative researcher I hope to have maintained the quality standards such as critical reflexivity, answerability, praxis and pedagogical thoughtfulness in the research.  I will maintain the critical reflexivity and pedagogical thoughtfulness within the multi- paradigmatic critical space (Luitel, 2009, Gautam, 2011).

Ethical Consideration

Ethics for me concerned with my relations and commitments to myself and my participants. I never emphasize on the coercive communication with my participants. I am aware to protect from any potential harm or abuse of power as consequences of that research. This potential harm could be physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional or cultural. The role of the researcher is to minimise the potential risks of harm to my participants. Further, as a researcher I must ensure that my participants are fully aware of how the research will affect them; specifically making participants aware of all harm that may arise as a consequence of that research. I try to maintain the self compassion,

Self compassion

In comparison to self esteem, self kindness does not require that I feel superior to others. Self kindness is not an evolution of ourselves at all but is an attitude we adopt towards our own failure and suffering. Self kindness also referred to as self comparison comes from Buddhist tradition is less intentionally cultivated. This concept may help to me to relate to self and Others (Seigan, 2010).  

Informed consent

 I move ahead with the consent of the participants in the research area.  Similarly, role of my supervisor of getting consent on the themes and ideas are valuable to lead the research ahead.  It is important because I want that no participants would be hurt and humiliated by any sort of activities and intentions.

 No deception

  I show whatever I find from the field interacting with adult people to my family members because the hierarchies among literate and non-literate adult people exist because of social and cultural boundaries.  First, whatever I got from adult people I shared to parents and whatever I got from the family shared with the participants.


 I hope to have maintained the confidentiality regarding any information about the participants.  I hope that this confidentiality led towards the ethics of care and compassion.

            I used audit trail method to make my research by using the reflection as a woman. I brought my reflection what I understand about literacy in the field and helps to find out the traditional ways of being literate in the village while engaging to my participants. To set up quality standard of the qualitative research I believe some point which is mentioned in Creswell (2007) are; (1) prolonged engagement and persistent observation in the field include building trust with participants (2) peer review or debriefing, (3) negative case analysis, (4) clarifying researcher bias from the outset of the study, (5) member checking, (6) rich, thick description, and (7) external audits.