Review: Everyday Neoliberalism in Cuba
June 13, 2011 § 2 Comments
In light of our ongoing discussion of ethnographic work, and particularly participant observation, I found Dr. Harrison’s “Everyday Neoliberalism in Cuba: A Glimpse from Jamaica” quite intriguing. Despite later trips to Cuba, Harrison’s social analysis of the impact of the “Special Period” on Cuba, began during a stay in Jamaica—hence, “A Glimpse from Jamaica.” In what she describes as a serendipitous redirection of inquiry in her fieldwork, Dr. Harrison met a number of Cuban men working for a Venezuelan energy company in Jamaica. Though Dr. Harrison is quite forthcoming about her sources, my first reaction while reading her work was to wonder whether her depiction of Cuba was affected by a sort of selection bias—it seemed that her informants were primarily Cuban men of color, working several month terms in Jamaica. Given the opportunity to pose my concern directly to Dr. Harrison, I was interested by her description of the nature of fieldwork, and the resulting need to compare your findings with a review of the literature.
Actually, the idea of bias has been an ongoing source of concern for me as we discuss the ethnographic methodology of many of our readings in class in order to inform our own ethnographic work. Coming to the table with the public policy mindset of poll design, I wondered about all the ways results of polls and surveys can be swayed—selection bias, response bias, and non-response bias. For example, is ethnographic work representative of the people unwilling to be interviewed?