#490Perspective Analysis

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    So, how does this relate to the field of Religious Studies? Is the project complete?


    This is the THIRD post in the #490perspective blog series. Please check out the following posts, as well!



                Inspired by our course’s analysis on Gyanendra Pandey’s A History of Prejudice: Race, Caste, and Difference in India and the United States, we centered our social media project on the variability of perspective. Within Pandey’s book, he discusses the process of otherization as it pertains to the subaltern, specifically African American and Dalit communities. One such way that individuals who are associated with these communities become subject to otherization lies in their ability or inability to author an authentic, personal autobiography (REL 490 will have a field day with this).  Pandey posits:

    “ On the one-hand is bourgeois autobiography, an articulation of the self in the sense not so much of the display as the very production of a subject and an interiority; on the other is what might b e described as subaltern community memoir – a “collective autobiography in which the self is less self-centered and egotistical and autobiography serves as history.”


    Influenced by Pandey’s assertion, we set out to observe how fellow students with various dominant and subordinate identities responded to a vague project concerning personal narrative and photography.

    It was our hope that our data set would be more diverse (in many ways), but in the future we plan to continue this project in order to more clearly illustrate the variability of perspective. We also hope to analyze our data according to Pandey’s description of the subaltern. It could be interesting if our findings support Pandey’s assertion that the subaltern narrative is communal or collective, whereas the bourgeois narrative is more self-centered. This project truly introduces qualitative data collection from social media platforms in a way that may hopefully start a trend.

    Some interesting questions raised from the implementation of the project include:

    How can we, as researchers, effectively reconstruct meaning from the mosaic of participant submissions?

    How does our selective process of soliciting participants affect our data set?

    How effectively can one engage a “non-religious studies” student in this project?

    How might submissions differ based on personal bourgeois or subaltern identities?

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    We wish to resume this study in the future utilizing the similar (maybe slightly improved) methods in order to cultivate a data set that better lends itself to conclusive observations and/or theories. If you are interested in participating in our project and/or submitting comments/suggestions please follow us on Instagram: UAPerspective490 and Gmail: uaperspective490@gmail.com

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    #490Perspective Results

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    What are some specific differences that might influence how one interprets the mug?

    This is the SECOND post in the #490perspective blog series. Please check out the following posts, as well!



    During the planning stages of our project, we discussed the ideal sample size of participants. We truly wished to have as many students from different social spheres on campus represented, yet we were restricted by time and accessibility. When formally presenting our project to our REL 490 class, we received feedback on what a representative sample size might look like on a campus of about 40,000 students. The most significant assertion made during our initial presentation is that our study is but a small iteration of what could potentially become an in-depth project on the variability of perspective and how it may be impacted by external variables. In turn, we were able to glean how environment and context influenced personal analytical biases.

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    For example, we observed the influence of context on how participants perceived the task at hand.  After one of her workout sessions, which included boxing, Abbey asked someone at her gym to participate in the project. Interestingly, Abbey’s participant took a photo of the mug next to a pair of boxing gloves. This participant’s contribution reflects the impact of place and context on what was possibly most relevant at the time of the picture. (Picture on left)










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    In addition to the influence of one’s environment and context, we observed how a participants’ familiarity with the mug and/or the Religious Studies Department influenced the photograph and caption submitted. In the picture below, a senior REL major, who is extremely involved with the REL department, was asked to participate in the project while sitting in the REL lounge. This participant’s contribution highlighted the department and the various geographic locations where past REL graduates have/currently reside. (picture to the right)


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    In juxtaposition, a non-REL major less familiar with the department submitted a more general, yet fun, photograph. The lack of familiarity with the department did not seem to deter this participant from giving a unique and thought-provoking submission.

    Although we were unable to reach a sample size that would more accurately reflect the demographics of UA’s campus, we postulated additional variables that could influence future participants’ submissions. Such variables included, but are not limited to: reaching out to students who are not in the REL department or College of Arts & Science (We believe the results could lead to further analysis on how one’s “home” college’s pedagogy might influence their perception of the project and of the REL department); exploring the effects of age on one’s familiarity with Instagram and ability to participate in the project, and analyzing the effects of peer-pressure on one’s perception and participation.

    Fully recognizing the plethora of the possible variables that could be explored, we intend to utilize this project as a springboard for future research initiatives. Not only did we benefit from the task of creating and implementing a project, but we learned how to be effective researchers by being more aware of the innumerable factors that one must account for when gathering qualitative research and recognizing that instructions given to participants necessarily influence their understanding and participation in one’s research.

    We would greatly appreciate any suggestions for improvement/comments/ or more possible variables to be cognizant of!

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    blog 1If we gave you one item and asked you to take a picture and create a caption, how would you do it?

    This is the FIRST post in the #490perspective blog series. Please check out the following posts, as well!

                This is the exact question we asked participants in our project in order to highlight one major theme: the variability of perspective. We decided to mostly showcase people on the University of Alabama campus. As students we thought it would be interesting to gather results from our own demographic, but it was necessary to experiment with other individuals as well. In order to gather a vast amount of results we knew that we had to utilize a platform that most participants were familiar with and understood.

    Therefore, we chose Instagram as our main platform. For the project we made a very simple concept that would eventually result in a much bigger picture. We used a Religious Studies/Arts & Sciences coffee mug (pictured above) as our simple object. When we approached people we asked them to take a picture of the mug and caption it. This was the only instruction the participants received. We got the feeling that this confused most participants. Many individuals inquired something to the effect of “Well, how should I take it?” or “Do I need to say something specific?” which were common responses that we anticipated. Ultimately, we wanted individuals to be able to use their own imagination to illustrate their unique perception of this certain object.

    We had many participants who were markedly interested in learning the impetus and aim of the project. We gathered much input from our participants and captured many eclectic photographs and captions. You are able to look at the pictures on Instagram if you follow or search us our username: @uaperspective490. We hope to continue this project in the future in order to gather more data and have an excuse to carry around a little trinket reminding of us of our wonderful department.


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