Presentation on feminist methods of research

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Presentation on feminist methods of research

  1. 1. Feminist Methods of Research Presentation by: Sharon Bird Iowa State University
  2. 2. BACKGROUND
  3. 3. Methods are Informed by Methodology <ul><li>Methodology – two issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the appropriate means for discovering / producing knowledge? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How valid is the knowledge produced by the use of different methods ? </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. What do We Mean by “Methods?” <ul><li>Methods – the actual tools that we use to do research. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Face-to-face interviews </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Surveys </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Unobtrusive observations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Participant observation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Experiments </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Secondary data </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Methodology Determines Which Methods Will Be Most Appropriate <ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many researchers employ structural methodologies, and thus use methods that permit them to collect and analyze data about broad social patterns. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many researchers employ social constructionist methodologies, and thus use methods that permit them to collect and analyze data about the social construction of reality. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Social Sciences Require Methods That Are: <ul><li>Valid – does the method accurately capture social reality? </li></ul><ul><li>Reliable – does the method produce replicable results? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Methodologies and Methods May Differ by Discipline <ul><li>Humanities </li></ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul><ul><li>Social Sciences </li></ul><ul><li>Physical Sciences </li></ul><ul><li>Arts </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Etc. </li></ul>
  8. 8. GOAL OF METHODOLOGIES & METHODS: KNOWLEDGE <ul><li>This goal is shared across disciplines, but scholars: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use various means for achieving this goal, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May define “knowledge” differently. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Formal Knowledge <ul><li>Formal knowledge may be analytical or empirical: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Analytical knowledge is based on accepted principles of logic. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Empirical knowledge is based on the analysis of observational evidence. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. “Discovery” and “Construction” of Knowledge <ul><li>“ Discovery” of knowledge – suggests that an objective reality awaits discovery. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Construction” of knowledge – suggests that our understanding of reality is shaped (and limited) by our own experiences. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Specific Methods of Research are Used to Develop Specific Kinds of Knowledge <ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Empirical methods are used to develop empirical knowledge. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Empirical Methods of Research <ul><li>Involves: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collection of empirical evidence . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Testing of theories and/or hypotheses. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clear presentation of data . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clear presentation of analysis of data . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Potential for refuting theories / hypotheses. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Many Also Argue That: <ul><li>Empirical methods are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“Value free” and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not concerned with how the world “should be” but with “objective” facts only. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This suggests that “empirical” methods are not “political.” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Feminist Critique of “Value Free” Assumption <ul><li>“Empirical” methods and the knowledge produced by them are never completely “value free.” </li></ul>
  15. 15. For Example: <ul><li>Effects of individual subjectivities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who decides which topics are worthy of investigation? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Effects of social context: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How does social context shape how we frame research questions, collect data, analyze data, and interpret data? </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. FEMINIST METHODS IN SOCIAL RESEARCH <ul><li>*Feminist methods are informed by feminist methodologies. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Feminist Methods: <ul><li>Seek to reveal and overcome andocentric biases in research. </li></ul><ul><li>Seek to create social change . </li></ul><ul><li>Seek to represent human diversity . </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge the positionality of the researcher. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Revealing Androcentric Biases <ul><li>Methods must involve: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women (not men alone) as participants. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women’s experiences within social hierarchies. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In depth interviews with women that reveal women’s understanding of power structures in workplace, family, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Creating Social Change <ul><li>Methods must involve and respect participants as agents of change. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Participatory action research. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Performance ethnography . </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Representing Human Diversity <ul><li>Methods must acknowledge that: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not all women (and not all men) experience social world in the same way. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviews (data collection) and life history analyses that examine unique life experiences of Jewish, Catholic and Muslim men (and women). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Statistical methods that examine how sex category interacts with religious practice in their effects on individual outcomes. </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Acknowledging Positionality of Researcher <ul><li>Methods must acknowledge that the researcher’s positionality shapes the research process: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Researchers’ experiences shape: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What she or he views as important topics for study. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How participants respond (e.g., in face to face interviews). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How she or he interprets data. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Conclusions <ul><li>Most any method of research can be used to attain feminist (gender justice) goals. </li></ul><ul><li>Method depends on specific methodology and research questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Feminist methodologies and methods assume that knowledge is socially constructed. </li></ul><ul><li>Developing the most accurate and complete “knowledge” requires use of methods that reveal and embrace diversity of social experience. </li></ul>

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