Fieldwork/data collection is one of the most important parts in the research process, and it is particularly important for social sciences research. A number of aspects that need to be considered by a researcher before starting data collection include: ethical permission from the concerned ethical body/committee, informed consent, contract with different stakeholders, field settings, time allocation and time management, field leading, data collection, contextual and cultural diversities, community settings, socioeconomic and psychological patterns of the community, political pattern, rapport building between data collectors and respondents, permission to access community, language and mode of data collection, power relations, role of gatekeepers, privacy and confidentiality issues, layers of expectations among researchers/respondents/ funding organization, data recording (written, memorization, voice recording and video recording), and so on. Many aspects are very difficult to understand before going into the field. Sometimes, a researcher’s previous experience about a particular community may help to gain field access, but it may be difficult to assess the field in advance due to rapid changes within people’s livelihoods and other shifts in the community. The change of a political paradigm sometimes seems also to be a challenge at the field level. We believe that although technological innovation has benefited some aspects of the data collection of fieldwork in social research, many other dimensions (mentioned above) of fieldwork endure unchanged.
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M. Rezaul Islam, Niaz Ahmed Khan, Siti Hajar Abu Bakar Ah, Haris Abd Wahab and Mashitah Binti Hamidi
Tenghao Zhang, Pi-Shen Seet, Janice Redmond, Jalleh Sharafizad and Wee-Liang Tan
Until the mid-twentieth century, Southeast Asia and North America were the predominant destinations for Chinese emigrants. Amid the Voyage to Nanyang exodus, the California Gold Rush and the Transcontinental Railroad construction, millions of Chinese migrants, overwhelmingly from Guangdong and Fujian provinces in southern China, ventured to Southeast Asia and North America for better opportunities (Godley, 2002). When these early Chinese immigrants first arrived in the host countries, they were in effect sojourners aiming to remit sums of money to their families in China (Dana, 2014: 259). They also intended to return to China in their old age to enjoy the fruits of their ‘arduous labours in exile’ (Willmott, 1966: 254). For example, Loewen (1971: 27) argues that the early Chinese people in Mississippi were not true immigrants, but were sojourners and planning to return to China when ‘their task was accomplished’. These Chinese immigrants were faced with different levels of hostility from local residents, who saw them as greedy individuals, exploiting their advantageous economic position (for example, Chinese in Thailand; Coughlin, 1960). Members of the Chinese community often were excluded from many formal occupations, which led them to focus on the trade and commerce sectors and act as intermediaries between customers and producers. For example, Willmott’s (1966) study found that 84 per cent of Chinese immigrants in Cambodia were engaged in the commercial sector, which is significantly higher than the Cambodian average of 6.5 per cent. Appleton (1960) found that in the Philippines, ethnic Chinese held 23 per cent of the total commercial investment and nearly 30 per cent of the total investment in retail and import–export trade, despite only making up 1 to 2 per cent of the national population. Loewen (1971) found that 97 per cent of the Chinese immigrants in Mississippi, USA, were operating grocery stores.