This summer, I finish another small study as a part of a research methods course. While findings are thin and not too reliable either, I have enjoyed every bit of it. For there are few opportunities when one can try out a variety of methods – qualitative, ethnographic, GIS based analysis, observations of various types etc.
With a team, I have tried to understand what kind of relationship exist between a large corporate facility and its immediate community, in a city like Bangalore. A wide range of things could have been done, explored and closely investigated whereas we ended up looking at a few historical satellite imagery and developments in land use – land cover on the ground. As I write the paper, here is what we are presenting tomorrow.
The idea (and research question) for us emerges from two sources –
i) From our exposure to corporate –community tensions across India. We find that from West Bengal (Lanjigarh) to Maharashtra (Lavassa) to Kerala (Coco Cola in Plachimada) corporates have had a not so easy relationship with the immediate community with which they co-exist. The distrust of corporations run so high that the relationship is automatically inferred as exploitation of the community by the big company. We try to understand this relationship in the urban context and examine if the relationship is always negative. Although we don’t end up establishing any conclusive evidence as our time spent in doing this was very limited, we find that the process gives us a segue into studying this relationship with a certain system level view.
ii) That urbanization is a major force shaping cities across the world. If this is real then what do we know of corporate – community relationships in urban contexts? We try to develop this understanding.
Going further we must map the range of interactions and then weight them into the final relationship map that will evolve from this exercise. A whole lot of possibilities exist. But perhaps that will have to wait till we get time and institutional space to pursue this.