2lecture outline feminist critique of sociological research and methods counting or quoting?: debate over the appropriateness of quantitative or qualitative research methods in feminist researchtend to favour qualitative methodse.g. refer to Oakley’s (1981) study – transition to motherhood - and the idea of a ‘participatory model’is there a feminist method?gendered nature of knowledgefeminist sociology of knowledgefeminist epistemologies: e.g. standpoint and empiricismsome final points to think about
3feminist critique of research challenge the myth of ‘hygienic research’:question the ‘scientistic cloak’ - the idea of detached value-neutral researcherresearch is not always orderly – messyreflexivity - no account of researcher’s self and their relationship to/with those participating in the research project
4‘counting or quoting’?debate about using quantitative and qualitative research methods in feminist researchquantitative methods regarded as incompatible and unsuitable for feminist researche.g. survey – positivistic, one-way - exploitative process, associated with male values of control – ‘rape’ analogyqualitative methods = more compatible with carrying out ‘feminist’ research?e.g. un/semi-structured interviews – build rapport – two-way process
5e. g. ‘participatory model’ (e. g e.g. ‘participatory model’ (e.g. Oakley 1981; Bryman 2001; Duncombe & Jessop 2002; Letherby 2003)Oakley (1981) – conducted research - transition to motherhoodrepeated interviews – 55 women twice pre and twice post birth – even attended the odd birth too!her respondents would ask her questions – read quoteintense research context – increased personal involvement/rapport
6BUT cultivating rapport or ‘faking friendships’ – exploitative too? assume shared womanhood - can rapport be forged between all women irrespective of class, ethnicity, sexuality etc?feminist research – considered too subjective – issues of validity (led to a range of feminist epistemological positions – baseline to assess ‘truth claims’ – discuss shortly)also some feminists argue that statistical research has an important role to play too – e.g. extent of discrimination – equal opportunitiesOakley and others have since advocated mixed-method (i.e. quantitative and qualitative) research designsdepend on research question(s)? – ‘it’s not what you do it’s how you do it’!
7is there a feminist method? method: research techniques/practices – e.g. ethnography, survey, interview (choice of recipe)methodology: theories of how research is conducted – e.g. qualitative or quantitative (cooking process)epistemology: theory of knowledge – (kind of meal produced)according to Stanley & Wise (in Stanley 1990:26):who can be a knower?what can be known?what counts as valid knowledge?what is the relationship between knowing and being (ontology)what makes feminist research ‘feminist’ is the methodology and epistemology NOT the method
8gendered knowledge? (e.g. Letherby 2003) reason and the ‘gendered metaphor’ – dualistic, oppositional, and hierarchical:men - womenculture - naturereason - emotionmind - bodypublic - private‘authorized knowledge’ - basis of academic knowledge (institutionalised and legitimate), scientific, reason, objective, associated with men?‘experiential knowledge’ – everyday, emotional, subjective, associated with women - dismissed?feminists claim that knowledge is not gender neutral‘malestream knowledge has been used to control women, and feminist knowledge is an aid to the emancipation of women’ (Abbott et al 2005: 366)
9‘a feminist sociology of knowledge’ (according to Lengermann & Niebrugge-Brantley in Ritzer 2000: 477)claim that knowledge and understanding of the world:from the standpoint of groups of peopleis always partial and interest ladenvaries within and between groupspower relations‘feminist standpoint epistemology’ – standpoint of women
10feminist sociology and knowledge ‘sociology for women’ (Smith 1987)women’s ‘outsider status’‘epistemic privilege’
11feminist standpoint epistemology sometimes called ‘women’s experience epistemology’- because experience is the considered the basis of knowledge‘standpoint’ – ‘what we do shapes what we know’builds on and adapts Marx’s insights of the proletariat / particular emphasis on the sexual division of labour – women are particularly aware of and responsible for the grounded responsibilities of everyday lifewomen – oppressed class – comprehend their own subordination and those who oppress them (men) – this affords a ‘truer’ understanding of social reality – not distorted by ideologies of powerclaim that feminist knowledge is less biased than malestream knowledge
12BUT feminism motivated by political interests too? are all women the same – is there a common basis of oppression – can some women share more in common with some men than with other women?hierarchy of oppression?are some women more oppressed than others e.g. Black women – hence do they produce truer or different version(s) of reality?problem of relativism?is it more accurate to speak of standpoints?
13feminist empiricismaccepts the norms of positivist science – change ‘bad’ and ‘sexist’ practices instead (compatible with liberal feminism - reform)‘faulty science’ becomes more ‘accurate’ and ‘good science’ (assumes a realist ontology)promote ‘non-sexist’ researche.g. language; concepts; implications of findingsresearch designs and samples includemen AND womencorrect androcentric biases in knowledge and research
14BUTperpetuates and leaves intact the myth of ‘hygienic research’ - many feminists reject this assumptioni.e. notion of a neutral researcher who attempts to access and represent an objective realitypeople are objects in such researchlacks reflexivity and transparency of research process?
15summary of main issuesfeminist critique of sociological research and methodscounting or quoting?: debate over the appropriateness of quantitative or qualitative research methods in feminist researchtend to favour qualitative methodse.g. refer to Oakley’s (1981) study – transition to motherhood - and the idea of a ‘participatory model’is there a feminist method?
16summary of main issues gendered nature of knowledge feminist sociology of knowledgefeminist epistemologies: e.g. standpoint and empiricismsome final points to think about
17final thoughtsfeminist theory arose out of personal politics – importance of women’s everyday ‘lived experiences’ is it becoming disconnected from women’s experiences?to what extent is feminist theory politically relevant today and for whom?given the emphasis on diversity and differences between women – how effectively and legitimately can feminists from different cultural, religious, class, ethnic backgrounds etc theorise about ‘other’ women and their experiences?
18final thoughtsdoes a researcher have to be working class to study working class women or of the same ethnic origin etc – infinite regress – if this is the case what are the implications for sociology?when we talk about ‘gender’ and ‘sociology of gender’ – we tend to equate gender as a shorthand for women – why is this? Are men not gendered too?the influence and impact of feminism and feminist theory has played a part in opening up a field referred to as ‘men’s studies’ whereby male researchers look at men and masculinity or masculinities – can men utilise feminist perspectives?