Qualitative Methodology, the Historical Sociologist and Oral Societies: Re-assessing the Reliability of Remembered "Facts
With qualitative methodology now taking center stage in social sciences research, historical information in oral societies that pervasively relies on remembered categories could be sometimes fragmentary, biased, and willfully mis-located to effect a preferred relationship that may disturb or sustain currently desired power relations among groups of people. This paper will attempt to examine specific problems and challenges that pertain to the role of the historical sociologist who must not only record and interpret recalled events, but must also beware of possible "conflicts of interest" in the informant's/expert's relationship with the rest of society. The paper will use select examples from Somalia (East Africa) to show some possibilities of how and why people could manipulate historical data which, when published or reported officially, may facilitate their claim on resources and/or other preferred economic and socio-political outcomes. The paper proposes several ways to strengthen the situational reliability of the information received.
qualitative methodology; oral societies; historical sociologist; colonialism; written text (word); Somalia (Somalis)