Human Organization Research: Field Relations and Techniques

By Richard N. Adams; Jack J. Preiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
CONSULTANTS AND CITIZENS: A RESEARCH RELATIONSHIP*

Solon T. Kimball, Marion Pearsall, and Jane A. Bliss

A VARIETY of relationships may exist between the scientist and his subjects when both are human. The purpose of the present paper is to describe a mutually satisfying relationship between research-consultants from the University of Alabama and citizens of Talladega, Alabama, in conducting a combination of community self-survey and a basic study of the self-survey process.1 The relationship that ultimately developed was only partially the result of deliberate planning; unfortunately, a study of the nature of the relationship was not part of the original research design.2 However, the arrangement proved so eminently workable that we feel justified in presenting it here as an example of sociologists and citizens working together on a research project to benefit both.

The relationship existing between research team and citizens on the Talladega project was unusual, although certain components of the relationship represented well-established practice. What was unique was the combination of conventional research methods with a special "stand-by" consultant relation. That is, consultant services were given only when specifically requested by the community. Moreover, the re

____________________
*
Human Organization, Vol. 13, No. 1 ( 1954), pp. 5-8.
1
The study, which lasted from the spring of 1951 through the spring of 1953, was directed by Dr. Solon T. Kimball. Research-consultants included Dr. Thomas Ford , Dr. Marion Pearsall, Miss Ida Harper, Mr. Andrew Bumpas, and Mr. Fred T. Adams of the University of Alabama, and Miss Lucille Logan and Mrs. Phyllis A. Benton of Atlanta University. Special consultants included Dr. Margaret Quayle, Dr. A. T. Hansen, and Dr. York Willbern of the University of Alabama, and Dr. Esther McGinnis of Ohio State University. In the second year of the study, Miss Jane A. Bliss of the University of Alabama served as Executive Secretary of the Talladega Community Council. The project was financed through a grant from the Health Information Foundation of New York.
2
All research-consultants kept records of their daily activities and recorded such reactions of townspeople to the working relationship as were given spontaneously, but direct interviewing of townspeople on this subject was sporadic and inconsistent.

-67-

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