At the onset of the FGD, the women agree that research consists of three aspects: 1) to teach them a skill, such as digital literacy; 2) to further their knowledge about a topic (i.e. the flu and other health-related information, from which they express marked benefit); and 3) a general experiment, with unspecified value. With regards to the latter, one participant explains a financial experiment in which she recalls vivid decision-making and choice architecture of how to allocate money.
"For an elderly person, they are obviously older than you, so if you have 200shs, you could decide to give them 170 shs and remain with 30shs; and if it’s a young boy, you could decide to give them 100shs and remain with 100shs or 20shs and remain with 180shs. So I would say it helped me know about sharing. Like if a person is older than you, you are supposed to give them more money and if younger, you can decide whether to give them money and what amount."
Interestingly, this participant felt that she was "supposed" to act a certain way, thereby questioning the validity of the experiment itself--perhaps multiple participants are altering their behavior exclusively as a result of being observed, an inadvertent description of the Hawthorne Effect (McCarney et al, 2007).
Research is also described as a process of nominal value: "I would say that sometimes they promise that you will get some money just to make you feel like you have done something." Here, it sounds like the participant did not intrinsically feel the value of research but rather received external messaging that her actions "would be" relevant.
This theme of research as a mechanism of productivity became salient throughout the transcript; however, it also raises the issue of true consent. For example, if participants have no source of regular income, they may feel they have no choice but to participate in any income-generating activity, including research that they might not fully understand nor directly see the benefit of.
Notably, research was commonly conflated with service delivery from development agencies and NGOs; however, women expressed the greatest appreciation for these services. Therefore the irony and discrepancy with defining research is flagrant: the idea that research is tethered to service delivery sets unrealistic expectations that inevitably lead to disappointment, but the visibility of service delivery in Kibera is one of the greatest experiential/lived benefits. This juxtaposition then poses the question: how might our research organization want to clarify our mission to create appropriate expectations, while also cultivating and better disseminating more action-oriented research?