Skip to main content

Module Programme

Spring Term 2003-4

Convenor: Caroline Wright

Tutors: Christina Hughes and Caroline Wright

FEMINIST EPISTEMOLOGIES IN ACTION

Caroline Wright and Christina Hughes

Module Rationale

This module is based on drawing together issues of method, methodology and epistemology. Accordingly, the module aims to combine the practices, and practicalities, of undertaking small scale feminist research with an exploration of the political, ethical and theoretical implications of the decisions researchers take and the contribution that feminist methodologies have made to the theory of knowledge. In addition to developing skills and knowledges associated with research design, literature reviews and writing up research, we ask what role ‘experience’ should play in providing a foundation for feminist knowledge; how researchers might challenge the power relations that are part of the context of researching and interpreting; and how feminism justifies its knowledge claims. Such questions lie behind the short-term measures and practical decisions that researchers have to consider, and they are questions you will want to think about in relation to your MA dissertation and the research methods you adopt.

The academic aims of this module are:

  1. To present and evaluate a range of ontological, epistemological, methodological and ethical perspectives and questions relevant to research in Women’s and Gender Studies;
  2. To give practical training in the formulation of researchable problems, issues and texts, and their translation into research design and implementation;
  3. To develop the student’s research skills and prepare them for their dissertation.


Teaching and Learning Strategies

This ten-week module will be delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops. Lectures are designed to provide a framework through which students can gain a broad overview of each topic and contextualise the reading materials. Seminars will assume a more discursive format and are designed to encourage discussion, feedback and comment. Workshops are provided for more hands-on development of skills in respect of a research proposal. Students are expected to complete the key readings identified for each week before coming to the lecture and seminar.

Assessment

This will be through an essay of 5000 words. The deadline will vary but is either Monday 19 April 2004 or Monday 10 May 2004. It is your responsibility to ensure that you abide by the correct date according to your essay submission schedule.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Knowledge and Understanding

  1. Demonstrate an advanced knowledge and understanding of a range of ontological, epistemological, methodological and ethical perspectives and questions relevant to research in Women's and Gender Studies;
  2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding and awareness of the significance of difference (gender, 'race'/ethnicity, social class, sexuality, nationality, (dis)ability, etc) and power within the research process;
  3. Demonstrate a practical understanding of research design in Women's and Gender Studies as it is adapted to different kinds of research and to the time and resources available.

Key Skills

  1. Demonstrate competence in key research skills including research design, the formulation of researchable questions, literature reviews, information retrieval including from internet sites;
  2. Communication skills (oral, visual and written);
  3. Time management skills

Cognitive Skills

  1. Demonstrate the ability to comprehend and critically analyse the links between theory and practice;
  2. To present ideas in a coherent and scholarly manner.

Subject Specific/Professional Skills

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of research design and implementation in this area, including reflexivity in the research process.

Module Content

The syllabus has been designed to take account of the need for students to submit the preliminary proposal for their dissertation in Week 4 of the Spring Term.

  1. An Introduction to Research Design (CH)
  2. Conducting Literature Reviews (CH)
  3. Preparing an Initial Dissertation Outline (CH)
  4. Problematising Experience in the Research Process (CW)
  5. Feminist Epistemologies: An Overview (CW)
  6. Power/Knowledge: Introducing Postmodern Feminist Methodologies (CW)
  7. Working with Participants: Some Practical and Ethical Issues (CW)
  8. Representing the ‘Other’ in Research: Dilemmas of Difference (CW)
  9. Writing Up (CH)
  10. Presenting Research: A Poster-based Workshop (CH)


General Reading

  • Alcoff, Linda and Elizabeth Potter (eds) (1993) Feminist Epistemologies, London: Routledge.
  • Hart, C (1998) Doing a Literature Review, London: Sage
  • Letherby, Gayle (2003) Feminist Research in Theory and Practice, Buckingham, Philadelphia: Open University Press
  • Maynard, Mary and June Purvis (eds) (1994) Researching Women's Lives from a Feminist Perspective, London: Taylor and Francis.
  • Morgan, David H. J. (1992) Discovering Men, London: Routledge
  • Pease, Bob (2000) Recreating Men: Postmodern Masculinity Politics, London: Sage
  • Ramazanoglu, Caroline with Janet Holland (2002) Feminist Methodology: Challenges and Choices, London: Sage.
  • Stanley, Liz, (1990) Feminist Praxis: Research, Theory and Epistemology in Feminist Sociology, London: Routledge.
  • Stanley, Liz, (1993) Breaking Out Again: Feminist Ontology and Epistemology, London: Routledge (2nd rev. ed).
  • Ribbens, Jane & Edwards, Rosalind (eds.) (1998) Feminist Dilemmas in Qualitative Research, London: Sage.
  • Seale, C. (ed.) (1998) Researching Society and Culture, London: Sage
  • Tanesini, Alessandra (1999) An Introduction to Feminist Epistemologies, Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Winddance Twine, France & Warren, Jonathan W. (eds.) (2000) Racing Research, Researching Race, New York: New York University Press.
  • Wolf, Diane L. (ed.) (1996) Feminist Dilemmas in Fieldwork, Westview Press.

Week One: An Introduction to Research Design

Christina Hughes

Research design is the basic plan for a piece of research. This plan includes four main ideas. These are:

  • The strategy – how will I proceed from initial identification of research questions through to collecting data and evidence and writing up?
  • Conceptual framework – what kinds of theories or assumptions am I bringing to my analysis?
  • Who or what will be studied?
  • Which tools and procedures will I use to undertake my research?

Whilst research design represents the first stage of a project it involves thinking through the whole process of research from beginning to end. For this reason, a key aspect of research design is that of evaluation as you will want to know how adequate the research you intend to undertake is. Most textbooks on issues of evaluation and design focus primarily on the more positivist approaches in these areas. You should note, nonetheless, that a critical understanding of evaluation and design cannot be developed without recognising the assumptions that are brought to bear about the nature of social reality and the purposes of research.

Resource Package

This session is supported by a web based package: Research Design (see 'Research Process' on Christina Hughes' homepage, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick)

Further Reading

Arksey, H and Knight, P (1999) Interviewing for Social Scientists: An Introductory Resource with Examples, London, Sage (Chapter Four: Designing an Interview Based Study)

Blaxter, L, Hughes, C and Tight, M (2001) How to Research, Buckingham, Open University Press, Second Edition (Chapter

Letherby, G (2003) Feminist Research in Theory and Practice, Buckingham, Open University Press (Chapter Four: Quoting and Counting: the qualitative/quantitative divide)

Marshall, C and Rossman, G (1999) Designing Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks (Calif), Sage

Mason, J (1996) Qualitative Researching, London, Sage (Chapter Two: Planning and Designing Qualitative Research)

Punch, K (1998) Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, London, Sage (Chapter Eight: Overview, Design and Grounded Theory)

Vaus, de D (2001) Research Design in Social Research, London, Sage (particularly if you are interested in quantitative, experimental, longitudinal and case study design)

Week Two: Conducting Literature Reviews

Christina Hughes

The ability to carry out a competent literature review is an important skill for the researcher. It helps to place your work in the context of what has already been done, allowing comparisons to be made and providing a framework for further research. Spending some time reading the literature relevant to your research topic may prevent you from repeating previous errors or redoing work that has already been done, as well as giving you insights into aspects of your topic which might be worthy of detailed exploration. Putting together a literature, however, not only involves compiling a list of key texts. It also involves critical reading, critical thinking and critical assessment. These refer to a considered and justified examination of what others have written or said regarding the subject in question. An important skill at the heart of these processes is the ability to recognise, analyse and evaluate the reasoning and forms of argumentation in the texts and articles that you will read. This skill is called critical reasoning. Developing a systematic approach to the analysis of the arguments of others is an essential research skill.

Key Reading

Bond, M, Hughes, C and Owen, K (1996) In the field, in the library: methodological analogies for library-based researchers, Teaching in Higher Education, 1, 3, pp 373-383

Hart, C (1998) Doing a Literature Review, London, Sage, Chapter One

Resource Package

This session is supported by a web based package: Literature Reviews (see 'Research Process' on Christina Hughes' homepage, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick)

Further Reading

Blaxter, L, Hughes, C and Tight, M (1996) How to Research, Buckingham, Open University Press (also Second Edition 2001)

Bruce, C (1994) Research Students’ Early Experiences of the Dissertation Literature Review, Studies in Higher Education, 19, 2, pp 217-229

Burton, D (2000) Using Literature to Support Research, in D Burton (Ed) Research Training for Social Scientists: A Handbook for Postgraduate Researchers, London, Sage

Hart, C (1998) Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination, London, Sage

Fink, A (1998) Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From Paper to the Internet, Thousand Oaks, Sage

Germov, J and Williams, L (1999) Get great info.rm@tionfast, St Leonards, Allen and Unwin

Peelo, M (1994) Helping Students with Study Problems, Buckingham, Open University Press

Thomson, A (1996) Critical Reasoning: A Practical Introduction, London, Routledge

Week Three: Preparing an Initial Dissertation Outline

Christina Hughes

This session will be workshop based. Students will be asked to respond to the tasks set out in Kelly (1998) in order to develop their own plans. In addition to the key reading below, students should have read at least two methodological accounts from previously published research.

Key Reading

Kelly, M (1998) Writing a Research Proposal, in C Seale (Ed) Researching Society and Culture, London, Sage

Further Reading

General

See Weeks One and Two, and also

Clark, J and Causer, G (1991) Introduction: Research Strategies and Decisions in G Allan and C Skinner (Eds) Handbook for Research Students in the Social Sciences, London, Falmer, pp 163-176

Wisker, G (2001) The Postgraduate Research Handbook: Succeed with your MA, Mphil, EdD and PhD, Basingstoke, Palgrave (Stage I and Stage 2 in particular)

Methodological Accounts

Whilst it is important to understand the principles of research design and the importance of literature reviews as central to developing research proposals, one of the best ways of developing knowledge of how this works in practice is by reading the methodological accounts of feminist published work. Try:

Bowes, A (1996) Evaluating an Empowering Research Strategy: Reflections on Action Research with South Asian Women, Sociological Research Online, 1, 1 ( http://www.socresonline.org.uk/1/1/1.html)

Egharevba, I (2001) Researching an-'other' minority ethnic community: reflections of a black female researcher on the intersections of race, gender and other power positions on the research process, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 4, 3, pp 225-241

Francis, B (1998) Power Plays: Primary School Children's Constructions of Gender, Power and Adult Work, Stoke on Trent, Trentham Press (Chapter One: Introduction)

Hawe, K (1998) Educating Muslim Girls: Shifting Discourses, Buckingham, Open University Press (Chapter One: Framing the issues from the margins)

Hughes, C (1992) A stranger in the house: researching the stepfamily, in R Burgess (Ed) Studies in Qualitative Methodology: Learning from Fieldwork, London, JAI Press, pp 33-62

Maynard, M (2002) Studying age, 'race' and gender: translating a research proposal into a project, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 5, 1, pp 31-40

Puwar, N (1997) Reflections on Interviewing Women MPs, Sociological Research Online, 2, 1, ( http://www.socresonline.org.uk/2/1/4.html)

Skeggs, B (1997) Formations of Class and Gender, London, Sage (Chapter Two: Respectable Knowledge: Experience and Interpretation)

Stein, A (1997) Sex and Sensibility: Stories of a Lesbian Generation, Berkeley (Calif), University of California Press (Introduction)

Tuhiwai Smith, L (1999) Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, London, Zed Books (Chapter Nine: Responding to the Imperatives: A Case Study of Maori)

Week Four: Problematising Experience

Caroline Wright

This session explores the role that experience plays in the production of knowledge. Since the days of ‘consciousness raising’ in the 1970s, feminists have often privileged women's voices/women's experiences as a source of knowledge. There is good reason for this in terms of decentering ‘malestream’ knowledge, but it does raise methodological issues. Can researchers identify and capture the 'authentic voice' of women's experience in any simple way? Are fictional and social scientific accounts of experience equally 'reliable'? Also, what about men’s experiences – does patriarchy immediately invalidate them as a source of feminist knowledge or can pro-feminist men trust their experiences of the world?


Key reading

* Cosslett, T. (1991) ‘Questioning the Definition of “Literature”: Fictional and Non-Fictional Accounts of Childbirth’, in Jane Aaron and Sylvia Walby (eds) Out of the Margins: Women's Studies in the Nineties, London, The Falmer Press.

* Pease, Bob (2000) Recreating Men: Postmodern Masculinity Politics, London: Sage (ch. 4, ‘Constructing Profeminist Subjectivities’).

Further Reading

Byatt, A.S. (1989) Still Life, London: Penguin.

Glucksman, Miriam (1994) ‘The Work of Knowledge and the Knowledge of Women’s Work’ in Mary Maynard and June Purvis (eds) Researching Women’s Lives from a Feminist Perspective, London: Taylor & Francis, pp. 149-165.

Grimshaw, J. (1986) Feminist Philosophers, Chapter 3, ‘Experience and Reality’, Brighton: Wheatsheaf.

Letherby, Gayle (2003) Feminist Research in Theory and Practice, Buckingham, Philadelphia: Open University Press (ch. 1 ‘Educating Rita revisited: knowledge and language in the “male” academy’)

Martin, Emily (1987) The Woman in the Body: A Cultural Analysis of Reproduction, Beacon Press (‘Medical Metaphors of Women’s Bodies: Birth’).

Morgan, David (1992) Discovering Men, London: Routledge (ch. 9 ‘Studying Men in a Patriarchal Society’).

Ramazanoglu, Caroline with Janet Holland (2002) Feminist Methodology: Challenges and Choices, London: Sage (ch. 7 ‘Knowledge, Experience and Reality: Justifying Feminist Connections’).

Scott, Joan W. (1992) ‘“Experience”’ in Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott (eds) Feminists Theorize the Political, London and New York: Routledge.

Talbot, Jean et al (1996) ‘Affirmation and Resistance of Dominant Discourses: The Rhetorical Construction of Pregnancy’, in Journal of Narrative and Life History Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 225-251. Available online at www.massey.ac.nz/~alock/virtual/mbamberg.htm

Oakley, A. (1981) From Here to Maternity, Pelican.

Week Five: Feminist Epistemologies: An Overview

Caroline Wright

This session develops the analysis of experience and knowledge by looking at feminist standpoint theory. Are there ways of identifying a feminist standpoint or ways of validating its claims to truth? What is the claim to epistemic privilege based on, and where does standpoint epistemology leave men’s experience? Should we privilege women's knowledge? Does the actual gender of the researcher matter? Is there more than one feminist standpoint and if so how could differences between them be resolved?

Key Reading

* Tanesini, Alessandra (1999) An Introduction to Feminist Epistemologies, Oxford: Blackwell, ch. 6 ‘The Importance of Standpoint in Feminism’.

* Narayan, U. (1989) 'The Project of Feminist Epistemology: Perspectives from a Non-Western Feminist’, in A. Jagger and S. Bordo, eds. Gender/ Body/Knowledge, Rutgers University Press.

Further Reading

Alcoff, Linda and Elizabeth Potter (eds) (1993) Feminist Epistemologies, London: Routledge.

Durah, Jane (1991) Towards a Feminist Epistemology, London: Rowman and Littlefield.

Felski, Rita (1989) ‘Feminism, Postmodernism and the Critique of Modernity’ Cultural Critique, Fall.

Harding, Sandra (ed.) (1987) Feminism and Methodology, University of Indiana, Intro, Epilogue and Chapter 6.

Haywood, Chris and Mairtin Mac an Ghaill (2003) Men and Masculinities, Buckingham and Philadelphia, Open University Press (Ch. 5 ‘Coming out as a Man: Methodologies of Masculinities’).

Hekman, Susan (1997) ‘Truth and Method: Feminist Standpoint Theory’, Signs, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 341-365 (see also other articles in this special issue).

Hughes, Christina (2002) Key Concepts in Feminist Theory and Research, London: Sage (ch. 7 ‘Experience’).

Lennon, Kathleen and Margaret Whitford (eds) (1994) Knowing the Difference: Feminist Perspectives in Epistemology, London: Routledge.

Letherby, Gayle (2003) Feminist Research in Theory and Practice, Buckingham, Philadelphia: Open University Press (ch. 2 ‘United we stand? The feminist reconstruction of knowledge’).

Maynard, Mary (1994) ‘Methods, Practice and Epistemology: The Debate about Feminism and Research’ in Mary Maynard and June Purvis (eds) Researching Women's Lives from a Feminist Perspective, London: Taylor and Francis.

Nanda, Meera (2002) ‘Do the Marginalized Valorize the Margins? Exploring the Dangers of Difference’, in Kriemild Saunders (ed.) Feminist Post-Development Thought, London: Zed.

Ramazanoglu, Caroline with Janet Holland (2002) Feminist Methodology: Challenges and Choices, London: Sage (ch. 4 ‘From truth/reality to knowledge/power: taking a feminist standpoint’).

Smith, Dorothy (1987) The Everyday World as Problematic, Milton Keynes: Open University Press (especially pp. 6-9).

Stanley, Liz and Sue Wise (1993 - 2nd ed.) Breaking Out Again: Feminist Ontology and Epistemology, London: Routledge (ch. 8 ‘Breaking out Again: Afterword’, pp. 186-233).


Week Six: Power/Knowledge: An Overview of Foucault and Postmodern Feminist Research

Caroline Wright

This session explores the impact of postmodernism on feminist research. On what basis have feminists taken issue with Foucault’s work? What do you find useful about it, and what would you want to resist? Where do you think postmodernism leaves feminist research and feminist politics? Has it merely generated a new system of belief, of interest because it deconstructs an earlier system of belief, but not constitutive of reality?

What difference does postmodernism make to the critical investigation of men? On what basis have pro-feminist male researchers engaged with postmodernism?

Key Reading

* Pease, Bob (2000) Recreating Men: Postmodern Masculinity Politics, London: Sage (ch. 3 ‘Postmodern Feminism and the Critical Study of Men’).

* Ramazanoglu, Caroline with Janet Holland (2002) Feminist Methodology: Challenges and Choices, London: Sage (ch. 5 ‘Escape from Epistemology? The impact of postmodern thought on feminist methodology’).

Further Reading

Brooks, Ann (1997) Postfeminisms: Feminism, cultural theory and cultural forms Routledge (Chapter 3 ‘Foucault and Postfeminism: Discourse, power and resistance’).

Fawcett, Barbara and Brid Featherstone (2000) ‘Setting the scene: an appraisal of notions of postmodernism, postmodernity and postmodern feminism’ in Barbara Fawcett et al (eds.) Practice and Research in Social Work: Postmodern Feminist Perspectives, London: Routledge.

Flax, Jane (1992) ‘The End of Innocence’, in Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott (eds) Feminists Theorize the Political, London: Routledge, pp. 445-463.

Foucault, Michel (1980) Power/Knowledge, Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, edited and translated by Colin Gordon, London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, especially ch. 6.

Gunew, Sneja (1990) ‘Feminist Knowledge: Critique and Construct’, in Sneja Gunew (ed.) Feminist Knowledge: Critique and Construct, London: Routledge, pp. 13-35.

Hartsock, Nancy (1990) ‘Foucault on Power: A Theory for Women’, in Linda Nicholson (ed.) Feminism/Postmodernism, New York and London: Routledge, pp. 157-175
McNeil, Maureen, (1993) ‘Dancing with Foucault: Feminism and Power-Knowledge’, in Caroline Ramazanoglu (ed.) Up Against Foucault, London: Routledge, pp. 147-175.

McNay, Lois, (1992) Foucault and Feminism: Power, Gender and the Self, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Nicholson, Linda (ed.) (1990) Feminism/Postmodernism, London: Routledge.

Ramazanoglu, Caroline and Janet Holland (1993) ‘Women’s Sexuality and Men’s Appropriation of Desire’, in Caroline Ramazanoglu (ed.) Up Against Foucault: Explorations of Some Tensions Between Foucault and Feminism, London: Routledge, pp. 239-264.

Sawicki, Jana (1991) Disciplining Foucault, Feminism, Power and the Body, London: Routledge.

Soper, Kate (1993) ‘Productive Contradictions’, in Caroline Ramazanoglu (ed.) Up Against Foucault: Explorations of Some Tensions Between Foucault and Feminism, London: Routledge, pp. 29-50

Tanesini, Allessandra (1999) An Introduction to Feminist Epistemologies, Oxford: Blackwell, (esp ch. 8 ‘Knowledge and Power’).

Waugh, Patricia (1998) ‘Postmodernism and Feminism’ in Stevi Jackson and Jackie Jones (eds) Contemporary Feminist Theories, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Week Seven: Working with Participants: Some Practical and

Ethical Issues

Caroline Wright

Feminist concerns with women’s experience as a source of knowledge not only raise epistemological issues but also ethical ones, examined in this session. How is power to be conceptualized and where does it lie in the research encounter? Early ideas that feminist researchers ‘cosy’ up to their female participants have certainly been disrupted, and what about feminists working with male participants, or pro-feminist male researchers working with female or male participants? This session also asks whether it is acceptable for feminist researchers to use participants’ accounts or stories in any way they choose. Who does the material belong to? How important is it to show the centrality of the research process to the research conclusions and how might this be done when writing up research?

Key Reading

* Luff, Donna (1999) ‘Dialogue Across the Divides: “Moments of Rapport” and Power in Feminist Research with Anti-Feminist Women’, Sociology, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 687-703.

* Lee, Deborah (1997) ‘Interviewing Men: Vulnerabilities and Dilemmas’, Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 553-565.

* Stacey, Jackie (1994) Stargazing, London: Routledge (Chapter 3 ‘The Lost Audience: Researching Cinema History and the History of the Research’).

Further reading

Andrews, Molly (2002) ‘Feminist Research with Non-feminist and Anti-feminist Women: Meeting the Challenge’, Feminism and Psychology, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 55-77.

Blee, Kathleen M. (2000) ‘White on White: Interviewing Women in U.S. White Supremacist Groups’, in France Winddance Twine, and Jonathan W. Warren (eds.) (2000) Racing Research, Researching Race, New York: New York University Press, pp. 93-109.

Finch, Janet (1984) ‘“It's Great to Have Someone to Talk to”: The Ethics and Politics of Interviewing Women’ in C. Bell and H. Roberts (eds) Social Researching, London: Routledge.

Letherby, Gayle (2003) Feminist Research in Theory and Practice, Buckingham, Philadelphia: Open University Press (ch. 5 ‘Whose life is it anyway? Issues of power, empowerment, ethics and responsibility’ and ch. 6 ‘Texts of many lives: the implications for feminist research’).

Maynard, Mary and June Purvis, (eds) (1994) Researching Women's Lives, London: Taylor and Francis (especially articles by Ann Phoenix, Beverley Skeggs, Miriam Glucksmann and Janet Holland and Caroline Ramazanoglu).

Radway, Janice (1991) Reading the Romance, University of North Carolina Press (first published 1984).

Renzetti C. and R. Lee, (eds) (1993) Researching Sensitive Topics, London: Sage.

Roberts, Helen (1990) (ed.) Doing Feminist Research, London: Routledge. (Articles by Oakley and Pettigrew).

Stacey, Judith (1988) 'Can there be a Feminist Ethnography?' Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 21-27.

Stacey, Jackie (1994) ‘Hollywood Memories’, Screen, Vol. 35, No. 4, Winter, pp. 317-335.

Standing, Kay (1998) ‘Writing the Voices of the Less Powerful: Research on Lone Mothers’ in J. Ribbens, and R. Edwards (eds.) Feminist Dilemmas in Qualitative Research: Public Knowledge and Private Lives, London: Sage.

Thurston, Richard (1996) ‘Are you sitting comfortably? Men’s storytelling, masculinities, prison culture and violence’, in Mairtin Mac and Ghaill (ed.) Understanding Masculinities, Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open University Press, pp. 139-152.

Wilkinson, Sue and Celia Kitzinger (1997) ‘Validating Women’s Experience? Dilemmas in Feminist Research’, Feminism & Psychology, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 566-574.

Wolkowitz, Carol, (1995) Homeworking Women, London: Sage (Chapter 2 ‘Finding out about Homeworking’).

Week Eight: Difference, Diversity and Representing the ‘Other’

Caroline Wright

This session asks what difference does difference make, both politically and intellectually, in the research process? To what extent does ‘difference’ between the researcher and respondents affect the analysis of the data? Do some differences (gender, ‘race’/ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, (dis)ability, nationality) make more difference than others? Does difference matter more when ‘researching down’? What responsibilities does the researcher have in ‘representing the other’? How easy is it for researchers to maintain a distinction between ‘knowing differently’ from their informants and ‘knowing better’? Are hierarchies of knowledge inevitable?

Key Reading

* Patai, Daphne (1991) ‘US Academics and Third World Women: Is Ethical Research Possible?’, in Sherna B. Gluck and Daphne Patai (eds) Women’s Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History, London: Routledge, pp. 137-153.

* Reay, Diane (1996) ‘Insider Perspectives or Stealing the Words out of Women’s Mouths’, Feminist Review, No. 53, pp. 57-73.

* Wright, Caroline (1997) ‘Representing the “Other”: Some Thoughts’, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 83-89.

Further Reading

Bell, Diane (1993) ‘Introduction 1: The Context’, in Diane Bell, Pat Caplan and Wazir Jahan Karim (eds) Gendered Fields: Women, Men and Ethnography, London: Routledge, pp. 1-18.

Bhopal, Kalwant (2001) ‘Researching South Asian Women: Issues of Sameness and Difference in the Research Process’, Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 279-286.

Chatterjee, Piya (2002) ‘Ethnographic Acts: Writing Women and Other Political Fields’, in Kriemild Saunders (ed.) Feminist Post-Development Thought, London: Zed.

hooks, bell (1995) ‘Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination’, in Killing Rage: Ending Racism, London: Penguin, pp. 31-50.

Kitzinger, Celia and Sue Wilkinson (1996) ‘Theorizing Representing the Other’, in Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger (eds) Representing the Other, London: Sage, pp. 1-32.

Kothari, Uma (1997) ‘Identity and Representation: Experiences of Teaching a Neo-Colonial Discipline’, in Liz Stanley (ed.) Knowing Feminisms, London: Sage, pp. 154-165.

Maynard, Mary ‘“Race", Gender and the Concept of "Difference" in Feminist Thought' in M. Maynard and H. Afshar, (eds) (1994) The Dynamics of 'Race and Gender: Some Feminist Interventions, London: Taylor and Francis.

Mohanty, Chandra T. (1988) 'Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourse, Feminist Review no 30, Autumn.

Opie, Anne (1992) 'Qualitative Research, Appropriation of the “Other” and Empowerment’, Feminist Review, No 40, Spring.

Ramazanoglu, Caroline with Janet Holland (2002) Feminist Methodology: Challenges and Choices, London: Sage (ch. 6 ‘Researching “others”: Feminist methodology and the politics of difference’).

Thapar, Bjorkert (1999) ‘Negotiating Otherness: Dilemmas for a non-Western researcher in the Indian sub-continent’, Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 57-69.

Viswaswaran, Kamala (1994) Fictions of Feminist Ethnography, London: University of Minnesota Press

Watson, Beccy and Sheila Scraton ‘Confronting Whiteness? Researching the leisure lives of South Asian mothers’, Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 265-277.

Wilkinson, Sue and Celia Kitzinger (eds) (1997) Representing the Other, London: Sage.

Windance Twine, France ‘Racial Ideologies and Racial Methodologies’ in Winddance Twine, France & Warren, Jonathan W. (eds.) (2000) Racing Research and Researching Race, New York University Press.


Week Nine: Writing Up

Christina Hughes

Within the research methodology literature the issue of writing is either ignored or is considered primarily in technical terms of, say, style, format, writing drafts and thinking about potential audiences. Indeed, a standard view of writing is that this is an act of transcription of one’s thinking where one needs to engage in the act of thinking prior to putting those thoughts onto paper. However, writing is thinking. One not only becomes conscious of one’s thinking through writing but writing shapes and transforms our thinking. Here, therefore, we need to become much more aware of what it means for us when we write. One way of achieving this is to engage in a variety of ‘risk-free’ writing tasks that include freewriting and exploratory writing. In addition, writing is very much connected to our sense of identity and we might want to ask ‘What kinds of identities are privileged through existing practices? This session focuses on the personal and the practical issues involved in writing a dissertation.

Key Reading

Back, L (1998) Reading and Writing Research, in C Seale (Ed) Researching Society and Culture, London, Sage

Grant, B and Knowles, S (2000) Flights of imagination: Academic women be(com)ing writers, International Journal for Academic Development, 5, 1, pp 6-19

Resource Package

For those students who want to write themselves into their research dissertations, you might find the web based package Developing Reflexivity in Research useful. (see 'Research Process' on Christina Hughes' homepage, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick)

Further Reading

To develop a reflexive awareness of the writer in the text:

Atkinson, P (1990) The Ethnographic Imagination: Textual Constructions of Reality, London, Routledge

Barone, T (1995) Persuasive writings, vigilant readings and reconstructed characters: the paradox of trust in educational storysharing, in J Hatch and R Wisnieski (Eds) Life History and Narrative, London, Falmer, pp 63-74

Birch, M (1998) Re/constructing Research Narratives: Self and Sociological Identity in Alternative Settings, in R Edwards and J Ribbens (Eds) Feminist Dilemmas in Qualitative Research: Public Knowledge and Private Lives, London, Sage, pp 171-185

Coffey, A (1999) The Ethnographic Self, London, Sage

Davies, B (1992) Women’s Subjectivity and Feminist Stories, in C Ellis and M Flaherty (Eds) Investigating Subjectivity: Research on lived experience, Newbury Park (Calif), Sage, pp 53-78

Ellis, C and Bochner, A (Eds) (1996) Composing Ethnography: Alternative Forms of Qualitative Writing, Walnut Creek, Altamira Press

Hughes, C (1999) Learning to be intellectually insecure: the dis/empowering effects of reflexive practice, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 1, 4, pp 281-296

Richardson, L (1990) Writing Strategies: Reaching Diverse Audiences, London, Sage

Richardson, L (1992) The Consequences of Poetic Representation: Writing the Other, Rewriting the Self, in C Ellis and M Flaherty (Eds) Investigating Subjectivity: Research on Lived Experience, Newbury Park (Calif), Sage, pp 125-140

Seale, C (Ed) (2004) Social Research Methods: A Reader, London, Routledge (Part Twelve: Reflexivity and Representation - Articles by Alvin Gouldner, James Clifford, Paul Atkinson, Renato Rosaldo, Laurel Richardson, John Brewer)

Critical Accounts of Academic Literacy

These may help you understand the politics and form of academic writing:

Hughes, C (2002) Key Concepts in Feminist Theory and Research, London, Sage (Chapter Eight: Developing Conceptual Literacy)

Lillis, T (2001) Student Writing: Access, Regulation, Desire (London, Routledge)

Perry, P (2000) A Composition of Consciousness: Roads of Reflection from Freire to Elbow (New York, Peter Lang Publishers)

'How to' Guides on Research Writing

There is an enormous number of study skills texts available. Try also:

Burton, D (2000) Writing a Thesis, in D Burton (Ed) Research Training for Social Scientists: A Handbook for Postgraduate Researchers, London, Sage

Murray, R (2002) How to Write a Thesis, Buckingham, Open University Press

Woods, P (1999) Successful Writing for Qualitative Researchers, London, Routledge

Week Ten: Presenting Research: A Poster based workshop

Christina Hughes

This session is devoted to your presentations, or representations, of your planned research design. You are asked to produce a poster that will visually, and creatively, summarise your research focus, questions, approach and conceptual framework. These posters will be displayed in class and you should be prepared to answer questions from colleague students about your work.

Homework: Poster Presentation

YOUR TASK?

To produce a poster

HOW?

Be as imaginative as you like. Use colour, pictures, words, diagrams, abstract images, portraiture, poems, silence …

YOUR AIM?

To convey to your audience the key elements of your current dissertation thinking

OTHER PREPARATION?

To be ready to talk about your poster and to answer any questions your audience might ask

To be ready to ask questions of others to help them develop their thinking

ANYTHING ELSE?

Yes! Have some fun with it!