Gender - Research Methods


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Report on Gender Research Methods for IR 236 Class, June 21, 2008

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Gender - Research Methods

  1. 1. Method, Methodology and Epistemology BY Maam Lumanglas, 21 June 2008
  2. 2. Ch2: Methods, Methodology and Epistemology <ul><li>Gendered aspects of the KNOWING/ DOING relationship </li></ul><ul><li>The relationship between the product of research and the process of research </li></ul><ul><li>This is extremely important and intimately connected because what we do during the research process affects the product that we get </li></ul>
  3. 3. KEY ISSUES <ul><li>The feminist critique of “masculine” knowledge production </li></ul><ul><li>The gendered characteristics of quantitative and qualitative methods and approaches to studying the social world </li></ul><ul><li>Differential experience of M&F researchers and M&F respondents </li></ul><ul><li>The significance of gender in data analysis/presentation </li></ul>
  4. 4. Masculine Knowledge Production and the Feminist Critique 1 Traditional and Critical Approaches 2 Gendered and Other Standpoints
  5. 5. Traditional and Critical Approaches <ul><li>Historically, the focus of academic endeavor was men and male experience, and was represented as general </li></ul><ul><li>The so called “scientific” method was unquestioned </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Because is allows for the objective collection of facts by a value-neutral researcher </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reality is out there and the researcher can discover the truth independent of observer effects </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Traditional and Critical Approaches <ul><li>Feminist challenge to an objective and value-free approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All research involves some element of the researcher’s personhood in terms of values, opinions, interests, approaches, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Thus, in all research the product cannot be separated from the conditions of its production </li></ul><ul><li>Feminist research admits this </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Therefore, it helps to break down the power relationship between the researcher and the researched </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Traditional and Critical Approaches <ul><li>FEMINIST CRITICISM OF THE TRADITIONAL MALE-CENTERED APPROACH TO RESEARCH </li></ul><ul><li>The selection of sexist and elitist research topics </li></ul><ul><li>Biased research including the use of male-only respondents </li></ul><ul><li>Exploitative relationships between researcher and researched and within research teams </li></ul>
  8. 8. Traditional and Critical Approaches <ul><li>FEMINIST CRITICISM OF THE TRADITIONAL MALE-CENTERED APPROACH TO RESEARCH </li></ul><ul><li>Claims to false objectivity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>by those who seek the scientific </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Inaccurate interpretation and overgeneralization of findings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Including the application of theory to women from research on men </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Traditional and Critical Approaches <ul><li>Feminist research should focus on the need for research to mean something, to lead to change in women’s lives </li></ul><ul><li>Feminist research is not research about women but research for women to be used in transforming their society </li></ul>
  10. 10. Traditional and Critical Approaches <ul><li>FEMINIST RESEARCHERS SHOULD: </li></ul><ul><li>Give continuous and reflexive attention to the significance of gender as an aspect of all social life and within research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>and consider further the significance of other differences between women, and the relevance of men’s lives to feminist understanding of the world </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Provide a challenge to the norm of “objectivity” and the assumption that knowledge can be collected in a pure, uncontaminated way </li></ul>
  11. 11. Traditional and Critical Approaches <ul><li>FEMINIST RESEARCHERS SHOULD: </li></ul><ul><li>Value the personal and the private as worthy of study </li></ul><ul><li>Develop non-exploitative relationships within research </li></ul><ul><li>Value reflexivity and emotion as a source of insight as well as an essential part of the research process </li></ul>
  12. 12. Gendered and Other Standpoints <ul><li>1 Feminist Empiricism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Feminist philosophical critique of the traditional male-centered “scientific” epistemology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uses “traditional methods” and approaches more appropriately </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Challenging the way methods are used rather than challenging the methods themselves </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Elimination of sexist concepts and sexism in titles, language, methods, research designs, etc </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Gendered and Other Standpoints <ul><li>2 Feminist Standpoint Epistemology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Views “masculine science” as bad science because it excluded women’s experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advocates that “personal is political” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Draws on Marxist ideas: Women are an oppressed class and, as such, have the ability not only to understand their own experiences of oppression but to see their oppressor’s viewpoint </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Gendered and Other Standpoints <ul><li>2 Feminist Standpoint Epistemology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research based on women’s experience provides a more valid basis for knowledge because it gives access to a wider conception of truth via the insight into the oppressor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Objectivity is possible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>but the critical scrutiny of all the aspects of the research process is necessary to achieve objectivity </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Gendered and Other Standpoints <ul><li>2 Feminist Standpoint Epistemology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PROBLEMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focusing on the standpoint of one particular group can imply that their perspective is more real/accurate and better than that of others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If there is only one real/accurate/best experience, this can only be built upon the suppression of voices of persons with experiences unlike those who have the power to define </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Gendered and Other Standpoints <ul><li>2 Feminist Standpoint Epistemology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PROBLEMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If “more oppressed/disadvantaged” means “greater potential for knowledge” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This could lead to unproductive discussion of the hierarchies of oppression </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How do we know who is more oppressed? Does the “most oppressed” have complete access to the truth? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Gendered and Other Standpoints <ul><li>3 Feminist Postmodernism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Postmodernists reject any claim to knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There is not one truth but many truths, none of which is privileged </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A radical critique of both traditional (masculine) approaches and Feminist Standpoint Epistemology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Completely rejects the possibility of the objective collection of facts </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Gendered and Other Standpoints <ul><li>3 Feminist Postmodernism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are no universal theories and any attempt to establish a theory/truth is oppressive, whether from the perspective of men or from the perspective of women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Arguing that the feminine is superior to the masculine (in relation to dualisms of rationality/irrationality , subject/object and culture/nature ), leaves the dichotomies unchallenged and therefore merely perpetuates rather than deconstructs male domination </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Gendered and Other Standpoints <ul><li>3 Feminist Postmodernism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PROBLEM </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If we insist that feminist meanings are no more valid than any other, how can we claim that reading rape as abuse is any more valid than the rapist’s view of the act as pleasure? </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Gendered and Other Standpoints <ul><li>Attempts to bring the best of these approaches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some feminists argue that we should acknowledge that there are material conditions that women share, yet recognize the importance of difference and the significance of each of the multiple identities that individuals occupy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender is a “difference that makes a difference” </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Gendered and Other Standpoints <ul><ul><li>There is not one feminist standpoint </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What unites feminists politically and epistemologically is not a shared belief in a homogeneous social identity or position, but a shared political interest in emancipation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Despite disagreements among feminists, they share a commitment to modifying and helping to eliminate power differentials based on gender </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Gendered Research Approaches and Interests 1 Bringing women and men back in 2 Gendered Paradigms 3 Emotion and Power
  23. 23. Bringing women and men back in <ul><li>Feminist research must go beyond the study of women to work out ways of studying for women </li></ul><ul><li>If man is not the norm and woman is not the deviation, research should focus on both women’s and men’s experience </li></ul><ul><li>Women need not be portrayed as victims, and men as victors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Men can be victims, women can be powerful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g., Studies on women and work in the 1960s VS research on men’s fertility and involvement in family life </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Gendered Paradigms <ul><li>Paradigm War </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The result of male researchers being associated with quantitative methods of data collection and women researchers with qualitative methods (especially the in-depth interview) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is a misconception </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Feminist researchers must ensure that they have accessed all of women’s experiences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Feminist researchers use not only the face-to-face interview but other quali & quantitative methods as well (FGD, questionnaire, observation, reanalysis of previously collected data, etc.) </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Emotion and Power/Gender in the Field <ul><li>The display of emotions is gendered </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is less acceptable for women to display stereotypical masculine emotions like anger, and less acceptable for men to display stereotypical feminine emotions like distress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Men are held responsible for bringing the income and the women for running the home, caring for the children and “working with emotions” </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Emotion and Power/Gender in the Field <ul><li>Relevance in Fieldwork: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women have traditionally been portrayed as more accessible and less threatening than men </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women supposedly have “superior” communicative abilities, making interactions in fieldwork generally easier </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This is sexist and denies the hard work that both men and women do in the field </li></ul>
  27. 27. Emotion and Power/Gender in the Field <ul><li>In order to be ethically sound and non-exploitative, research should be “ for ” rather than “ of ” those that are studied </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Researchers should not aim to represent the “other” (people that are not like them) in order to limit the possibilities of exploitation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The problem is that issues of power are complex within research </li></ul><ul><li>Authors’ suggestion: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not assume that research respondents are always vulnerable or disempowered </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Gendered Analysis and Re/Presentation of Research
  29. 29. Re/Presentation of Research <ul><li>The researcher is responsible for the final analysis and presentation of the data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Thus, researchers “take away the words” of respondents and have the power of editorship </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The “scientific” approach is also criticized because of the focus on theory-testing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Instead, research should be ethnographic and describe “life as it is” from which theories should be developed </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Re/Presentation of Research <ul><li>“Grounded Theory” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Developed from data and aims to be faithful to the reality of situations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The researcher does not develop a theory then proves it, but allows the relevant theory to emerge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Criticism: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>no study can be completely inductive </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>no work is free of politics </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>All work is theoretically grounded </li></ul></ul></ul>