More methodologies nattering
Journaling for one of my classes; this likely won’t be very interesting unless you’re into feminist methodological and epistemological questions. Fair warning! ;)
I’ve now had some time to read through and mentally digest the Hesse-Biber article from her book Feminist Research. This clarified methods and methodology, and I’ve implemented some of her definitions with my working ones, as follows: methods are techniques and procedures used for exploring social reality and producing evidence. Hesse-Biber also defines a methodology as a theory of how research is done or should proceed — which meshes well with my working definition of methodology as the processes through which I intend to conduct research and consequently produce personally-accountable knowledge.
I expect my methodologies to be definitely feminist, in that they should produce knowledge which is grounded in experiences of gendered social life, but is also dependent on judgments about the justice of social relationships, on theories of power, and on the morality of social investigation. Further, my methodologies should be politically committed to feminism and justice, qualitatively valuing lived experience, community oriented, engaging in embodied and interpersonal dialogue in order to generate knowledge, and based in recognition of the researcher’s moral responsibility and ethical accountability.
An epistemology is, according to Hesse-Biber quoting Harding, a theory of knowledge which delineates a set of assumptions about the social world. Consequently my epistemology will be my deliberate, responsibly chosen politics and theory of knowledge which validates my questions and research, and encourages me to engage them for their social value and applicability. I expect it to both challenge androcentric bias, and to encompass and surpass the epistemology of the modern Western mind-set, as I wish to engage in a creative scientific process based within an ethics of caring.
Some other thoughts on Hesse-Biber’s article: I like the apparent attempt at reclaiming essentialism through the use of the term “strategic essentialism.” I quite agree with Griffin’s assessment of the misuse in the US of the entire concept of “essentialism,” which has been appropriated not for its original purpose — to “liberate consciousness from social constructions which favor dominant political structures of power” — but rather to silence any dissent from the academic mainstream. Her writing is beautifully lyrical as she notes of this type and usage of essentialism: “[i]t is instead a kind of bête, a creature of dreams who contains the fearsome thoughts and feelings which belong to the accuser… a ‘reductive opposition'” (“Ecofeminism & Meaning” in Warren’s Ecofeminism, 214, 225).
Finally, I very much liked the following quotes, which I’m replicating here so I remember them easily:
I continue to be amazed that there is so much feminist writing produced and yet so little feminist theory that strives to speak to women, men and children about ways we might transform our lives via a conversion to feminist practice.
— bell hooks (2).
Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic.
— Audre Lorde (2).
Anger tends to flow down the social structure, while love flows up the social hierarchy. In effect, those at the bottom of the social ladder become “the complaint clerks of society, and … for the dwellers at the top, the world is more often experienced as a benign place.” … emotions are often co-opted for commercial benefit. For example, those women employed in female-dominated clerical, service, and sales occupations often find that “emotional work” is a part of their job in addition to their more formal job description. They are expected to keep things functioning smoothly by managing the emotional climate at work — by smiling and creating an upbeat and friendly attitude (quoting Hochschild, 5).
Most of the knowledge produced in our society has been produced by men. … They have created men’s studies (the academic curriculum), for, by not acknowledging that they are presenting only the explanation of men, they have “passed off” this knowledge as human knowledge (5, quoting Spender).