Visiting Researcher: Dr. Kaberi Gayen
Dr Kaberi Gayen (PhD from the Business School) has been awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh Open Exchange Travel Grant to return to Edinburgh and Napier for one month to further her research on social networks. Kaberi is a visiting researcher with the ERI and has conducted research on contraception acceptance and the use of health services in rural Bangladesh, drug users in Bangladesh and the employability of those aged over 50 in Edinburgh. As part of the award she has been invited to give seminars to the Global Public Health and Policy Unit at the University of Edinburgh and to the School of Geography and the Social Dimensions of Health Institute Universities of Dundee and St Andrews. The subject of the seminars was “using links at the basic data in social science”.
Conventionally, in social science, analysis is based on the attributes of the sample unit, normally, the actor. The methods appropriate to attribute data are those of variable analysis, whereby attributes are measured as values of particular variables (income, occupation, education etc.). Here an alternative is forwarded: that of the contacts, ties and links, the group attachments and meetings, which relate one agent to another and so cannot be reduced to the properties of the individual agents themselves. Relations are not the properties of agents, but of systems of agents; these relations connect pairs of agents into larger relational systems. The methods appropriate to relational data are those of network analysis, whereby the relations are treated as expressing the linkages which run between agents. This allows the position of the person (actor) in their social web to be represented and can take account on the influences on that individual emanating from those whom they are connected with.
In this presentation the application of this approach is exemplified by, mainly, a research conducted on women in sampled villages in rural Bangladesh. The purpose of the research was to understand the nature of the influences on the likelihood of using contraception and in accessing professional care facilities. In this presentation the whole processes of the investigation is presented. This allows one to more effectively understand how peer-pressure and local economic change influences the individual both directly and through their web of contacts. From this frame of analysis it is shown that not being in a central position leaves one more exposed to missing key health information. Another important outcome is to demonstrate how strata in society might accelerate change or impede change. Examples have been drawn also from a recent research on drug users of slums in Dhaka city and the social networks of older workers in Edinburgh local job market.
Kaberi is currently an associate professor in Mass Communication and Journalism at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh.