Recently, I’ve had diversity on my mind (to be honest, I usually have diversity on my mind). In my former life as a sociology professor, I wrote and taught often about how a multicultural society can successfully integrate and reduce entrenched racial, gender, and class inequalities. In my current life as a market researcher, I look for ways to incorporate these lessons to help companies succeed. To that end, I am writing a series of posts on diversity as it relates to marketing and market research.
For this first post, I want to address diversity within the context of a qualitative in-depth interview, focus group, or ethnography. Whether the research objectives relate to social identity or not, practitioners of both academic and market research navigate the social identities – race, gender, class, sexuality, age, etc. – of moderator and participant. According to standpoint theory, each individual’s perspective on the world is informed by her experiences in a social structure that is segmented by demographic or social identities. When moderator and participant are the same gender or race, they will share a particular standpoint, while in turn differing in other facets of their identities, such as sexuality or age.