I found Dr. Lay’s chapter very enlightening on what constitutes feminist research—or, as she points out, a feminist perspective on research. I always bristle at blanket generalizations of any group, especially of a group of which I’m a member, but while reading the chapter I realized that one could easily replace the references to “men” with references to “the traditional power structure,” which has been male-dominated for most of recorded history (at least in the sense that they—we, I guess—got to do the recording). Looking at the feminist approach as a perspective, rather than a method, implies that the principles can inform any critical analysis, whether gender-based or not. My discussion question asked how could this be done. It seems that only minor adaptations would be necessary, and the results would be much richer for it.
BTW: For a 19th century perspective on qualitative and quantitative analysis (actually poetry and math), see this excerpt: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~jone0850/value_of_reason.htm
According to cultural studies, truth is unstable. And because truth is unstable, Thralls and Blyler state, lasting and concrete answers to researchers' questions are not possible (p. 206). Researchers, they say, must constantly "rehistoricize or relink" what they examine as a result of shifting significances. If this is so, is it possible that feminist criticism (as a perspective) could one day be irrelevant? Or if not irrelevant, rehistoricized in a way that would be unrecognizable today?
I was thinking of this in light of Durack's piece. Will it ever be possible to level the playing field of technical communication so that gender is no longer a divisive issue? If culturally, we are able to redefine what is "technology" and "work" and "the workplace" to be more inclusive, would feminist perspective no longer be necessary? Or will gender, by its very nature, always be a valid variable?
One of the interesting topics we discussed yesterday was the distinction among method (a system of collecting data), methodology (a particulary of interpreting data), research goals and objectives, theory, and perspective. That feminist theory is a perspective rather than a method seems to make sense, especially in light of Dr. Lay's discussion of how feminist research "informs" a method.
Also interesting was the discussion of Dickson regarding what constitutes data. For example, we talked about how Dickson, though her data isn't "traditional," uses data that appears to help her defend her perspective.
Given the above, and given our discussions over the past few weeks, the notions of what constitutes "research" seem to have become more tenuous--more ambiguous and less well defined, at least in the realm of qualitative research.
Furthermore, as I mention in my question below, there seems to be some thought that "things" that are non-traditional are more likely to not establish themselves within a dominant cultural frame. There fore, my questions for this week are as follows:
1. Though qualitative research has certainly established itself as legitimate in arts and humanities research, do you think it will ever establish itself as credible on the same level as qualitative research in social science and natural science disciplines? Does qualitative research need to do so? Will we forever be justifying (even within larger academic communities, institution-wide) what we do as research as being on par with the research being done in social science or natural science discplines?
2. In my Communication in Human Organizations course, we discussed feminist organizational structure—companies organized around principles of egalitarian, participatory, nonhierarchical, collectivist management philosophy. However, one of the criticisms of feminist organizational structures is that they cannot sustain themselves because of pressure from dominant cultural expectations; furthermore, feminist organizations may not be seen as “profitable” by more traditional organizations (e.g., banks who loan them money) and may therefore have a more difficult time succeeding. Because the characteristics of feminist organizational structure seem consistent with those discussed by Lay regarding feminist research perspectives, are scholars who approach research from a feminist perspective faced with similar criticisms (e.g., publishability/profitability)?
1.In what specific ways can we as researchers avoid falling into the roll of paternalistic, patronizing, expert towards our research participants? And how do you do empancipatory research that includes our participants as subject experts but is still research that is structured and valid?
I am passing on a fairly good -- sophistocated, brief, and (best of all) free -- online guide to critical/cultural theory created by Dino Felluga at Purdue.
He does an excellent job of tracing the development of such schools of thought as postmodernism and new historicism (often cultural studies in disguise) as well offering brief introductions to some of the major figures.