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Beyond Methodology: Feminist Scholarship as Lived Research
 0253323452, 9780253323453

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METHODOLOGY Feminist Scholarship as Lived Research


Mary Margaret Fonow Judith А. Cook


Bloomington and Indianapolis

© 1991 Ьу Indiana U11iversity Press

All rights reserved No part of this book may Ье reproduced or utiJizecl in ану form or Ьу any means, electronic or mechanical, including pl1otocopying and recording, or Ьу any i11formation storage a11d retrieval system, without permission in writing from the puЬlisher. The Association of American University Presses' Resolution on Permissions constHutes tl1e only exception to this prohiЬition.

The pape r usetl in t'1is puЬlication meets the minimum require ments of Ame rican National Sta11da1·d for Infoпnatio11 Scie11ces-Permanence of Раре 1· for Printed Library Materials, ANSI ZЗ9.48-1984 . @ тм

Maннfactured in tl1e United States of America

Library of Cong1·ess Cataloging-in-PuЬlication Data Beynd metl1odology : feminist scolarship as lived researcl1 / Mary Margaret Fonow, Judith А. Cook, editors. р. cm. l ncludes index. ISBN 0-253-32345-2 (alk. paper). - ISBN 0-253-20629-4 (pbk.: alk. paper) 1. \Vomen-Research. 2. Femiнism-Research . 1. Fonow, Mary ~1argai·et. 11. Cook, Judith А. HQ1180. B49 1991 90-43508 305.42'072-dc20 C IP 12


4 5 95 94 93 92 91


Back to the Future: А Look at the Second Wave of Fe minist Episten1ology and Me thodology / 1 Mary Margaret Fonow and ]udith А. Cook


The Man of ProfessionaJ Wisdom Kathryn Рупе Addelson


Learning from tl1e Outside r Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought / 35 Patricia Нill Collins



4. Womeп's Research or Feminist Research ? The D ebate Suri-oundiпg

F em inist Science and Me thodology Maria Mies




Quantitative and Qualitative Me thods in the Social Scie nces: Curren t Fe1ninist lssues and Practical Strategies / 85 ТоЬу Epstein ]ayaratne and Abigail ] . Stewart


Race апd Class Bias in Qualitative Resea1·cl1 on Wo1nen / Lynn W eber Cannon, Elizabetli Higginbot/1a1n, and Marianne L . А. Leung


Researching the Women 's Moven1e nt: We Make Our Own History, But Not Just As We Please / 119 Ve·rta Taylor ancl J"eila ]. Rupp


Objectivity and Truth: ProЬlems in Doing Femiпist Research / 133 Joan Acker, Kate Bar·ry, and johanna Esseveld


Separate but Equivalent: Eчual Рау for Work of ComparaЬle Worth / 154 Ronnie Steinberg and Lois Н aignere




Contents The Different Worlds of Women and Men: Attitudes toward Pornography апd Responses to Not а Love Story-A Film about Pornography / 171 Pauline В. Bart, Linda N. Free1nan, and Peter Kimball


Household Resources and U.S. Wome n's Work: Factors Aflecting Gainful Employment at the Turп of the Century / 197 С hristine Е . Bose


\Vomen in Agriculture: Counting the Labor Force in Developing Countгies / 226 Ruth Dixon-Mueller


Coauthorship, Gender, and PuЬlication among Sociologists


248 Kathryn В . Ward and Linda Grant


Fe minist Research , Feminist Coпsciousness, and Experiences of Sexism / 265 Liz Stanley and Sue Wise


S]1aring Fe minist Research with Popular Audiences: The Book Tour / 284 Laurel Richardson CONTRIBUTORS
















А Look at the Second Wave of Feminist

Epistemology and Methodology MARY МARGARET FONOW AND JUDITH А. СООК

Our collection of aгtjc\es авd corresponding analysis presents feminist epistemological ideas as they exist at а "mo,nent in time," capturing one point in thc dynamic, ongoing develop,nent of feminist discou,·se about the conduct of inquiry. The sa1n e can Ье saiJ about feminist i11f1uence on а nu,n be,· of 1nethodological techniques and appгoaches, extending the notion of method to e11compass all phases of the researcl1 process . Our major purpose in asse,nЬli11g ar1d prese nting tЬese articles is to еnаЫе а better understa11ding of' episte,nology and methodology in feminist research Ьу viewing them f'rom а sociology-ofk:nowledge pe rspective. We argue that through formнlating an i11-deptl1 analysis in this area, it is possiЬle to uncover some of the facto,·s tЪat sti,nн late or hamper femini st scholarsl1ip. Ву steppi11g back fi-01n the ideas co11tainecl i11 indjvidual articles to i11tegrate the whole, we find а cornmon ground, an interdisciplinary plane on which f'emi11ist researchers in all nelds can share their insights and expeгiences. The need f'or this type of analysis comes from the limitations and strictнres placed on fe1n i11ist studies Ьу а patгiarchal academic авd resea,·ch inf'rastructt1re (Cook and Fonow, 1986). These co11straints and reactions to the,n exte nd logically to social a11d politicaJ action , and а part of tl1is is femi11ist attempts to transform the research process. Another equally important impetus for this integrative perspective co,nes &om the 11otio11 that the experie nce of oppression dне to sexism can create а unique type of insight, involvi11g the ability to peвetrate "official" expla11ations and assumptions to grasp the underlying gender relations and theiг n1otoг mechanisms. Both of these inflt1e nces on feminist research-conditioned Ьу patriarchal gender re lations on the one hand, and а S0llrce of гadical i11sigl1t on the othe r~an Ье viewed as а way to approach each of the pieces included in this collectior,. Two concepts appear fгequently in our thinking and writjng about treпcls i,1 ferninist research. Tl1e nrst is "epistemology," and Ьу this we mean the study of assumptions abot1t how to kпow the social and appreheпd its meaп ing. The second concept, more familiar to most, is "methodology, " Ьу which we rneaп the study of actual techniqt1es авd practices used in the research process. The



articles in this volume have been chosen because they represent the current state of the literature in both of these areas of feminist scholarship across а variety of fields . 111 history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, women's studies, and demography the feminist perspective has been used as а lens through which to view the process of inquiry and its social, historical, and political context. We have argued elsewhe re that feminist epistemology and methodology arise from а critique of each field' s biases and distortions in the study of women (Cook, 1988Ь). We have demonstrated how the approaches used Ьу fe1ninist researchers working in different disciplines а1·е fundamentally affected Ьу critiques of the ways each field studies wo1nen and gende r relations (Cook, 1983). Our survey of these issues in research puЬlished over а nine-year period in the field of sociology identified several underlying assu1nptions in the lite rature on feminist methods (Cook and Fonow, 1986). Some of these are included in four themes we feel run througl1oнt the articles in this collection, as well as other works in this area. These are four aspects we encoнntered repeatedly, in different forms, althoнgh tl1ere are certainly others. Tl1e four themes that run throughout the works contained in this volume are: ref1exivity; an action orientation; attention to the affective components of the research; and use of the situation-at-hand. We will discнss each theme with illustrations from the articles themselves as well as contemporary literature, and then discuss the interrelations of the four the1nes.

The Role of Reflexivity А sociology-of-kпowledge approach to feminist scl1olarship reveals the role of refl exivity as а soнrce of insigl1t (Cook and Fonow, 1986). Ву reflexivity we mеап the tendency of fe minists to reflect upon, examine critically, and explore analyticaHy the пatu,·e of the research process. То some extent, this tende ncy toward reflection is part of а tradition of atteпtion to what Ab,·aham Kaplan (1964) refe rs to as "logic-in-use" or tЬе actual occurrences that arise in the

inquiry, idealized and unrecoпstructed . Emphasis on ref1ectioп also belongs to а tradition of re1niniscence about fieldwork experie nces Ьу sociologists and anthropologists. Compare, for example, Daniels (1983) , Gurпey (1985), and Warreп and Rasmussen (1977). У et fem inist epistemology carries tl1is tradition of reflection one step further Ьу нsing it to gain insight into the assumptions about gender relations underlying the coпduct of inquiry. Tl1is is often accomplished Ьу а thorough -goiпg review of the research settiпg and its pa,·ticipants, including ап exploratioп of the iпves tigato r's reactions to doing the research. l11 fact, Kathryn Pyne Addelson argues in this collection that feminists may Ье in the best position to challe nge the "cognitive authority" of traditional male social theorists. Arguing that 1nisogyny is itself irrational , Addelson shows how feminist scholars can insist on а more rational science as one tl1at takes into account, tl1rough critique and evaluation , the metaphysical commitments of the scientist as well as the

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social arrangements of doing scie nce. Tl1e ackпowledgment of metaphysical comn1itments as part of tl1e content of· scientific understanding opens the production of knowledge to а 1nore fruitful scп1ti11y.

Consciousness Raising One of the ,vays in wl1ich reflexivity is employed involves the concept of consciousness raisiпg, а process of self-awareness fainiliar to those involved wiili the women's movemeпt. Uпderlyiпg mнch of the reflexivity found iп feminist scholarship is the notioп found iп the earlier work of scholai·s such as W . Е. В. DuBois (1969) апd Paulo Friere (1970) iliat conscioнsness of oppression can lead to а creative insight that is generated Ьу experiencing contradictions (often at life "ruptнre points"). Unde1· id.eal circumstances, transformation occнrs, dнriпg \vhich some thing hidden is revealecl about the formerly taken-for-graпted aspects of sexнal asyn11netry. Thнs, in this n1odel, previously-hidden pheno1neпa \VЬich are appreheпded as а contradiction сап lead to one or more of the followiпg: an emotional catharsis (discнssed later i11 а section on the affective componeпts of feminist research); an academic insight and resulting intellectнal product; and increased politicization апd corresponding activism. For example, Patricia Hill Collins argues in this volume that it is the aware ness of he r n1arginal statнs as tЬе "outsider within" tЬat provides tl1e Ыасk female intellectual with а нnique Ыасk feminist standpoint from which to analyze self, fami ly, and society. It is the "outsider within" who is more likely to challe nge the knowledge claims of insiders, to acknowledge the discrepaпcy between insiders' accounts of hurnan behavior and her own expe riences and to ide ntify anomalies. The most common anomalies involve the omission and distortion of facts and observations about the lives and experie nces of Ыасk wome n . Colliпs suggests that there are а nurnber of benefits of "outsider witbin" status that act1.1aJ\y e nhance the production of knowledge; iliese beпe­ fits include greater objectivity, ability to see patterns insiders are too im111ersed to see, апd late nt advantages of invisibility. Consciousriess raising is employed in at least three ways Ьу the fe1ni11ist scholars writing in this collection as well as Ьу othe rs in the field. The fi,·st way is through attention to the consciousness-raising eflects of research о п the researche r. Laurel Richardson's article in this collection talks about what happe ned to he r sense of ide ntity as а feminist researche1· dнring the promotional tour for а book on af.fairs between single women and married mеп. Sim ilarly, Liz Stanley and Sue Wise's article in this volume deals with the consciousness-raising effects of presenting their research on obscene phone calls to audiences of male colleagues. Consciousness raising is also iп volved in discussions of ways in -.vhich the research process influences subjects of the inquiry. Some authors view the research act as an explicit attempt to reduce the distance betweeп the wornan researcher and fe male subjects. This is described Ьу Joan Acker, Kate Barry, and Johanna Esseveld, who write аЬонt the experience of giving their work to their key informants for comments iп orde r to e ncourage reciprocity. Attention



to the ways in which research can bridge the gaps between iso]ated women in rural Inclia who are victims of domestic violence is explored Ьу Maria Mies in her ana]ysis, translated for this volume, of fe1ninist research in tJ1e so-called Third World. Consciousness raising also plays а part in feminist methods as а central feature of research technique. This is found in а wide variety of iпstances. For examp]e, consciousпess raisiпg is employed as а а process that is studied Ьу femiпists when women's lives are examined at "structural rupture points" in their biographies such as divorce, t1nemployment, occurrence of rape and physical abuse, coming out, and many other times when social actors commonly forge new aspects of their identities. Maria Mies's article in this volume discusses how studying women at these rupture points reveals aspects about them that might otherwise remain hidden . "Click moments" for bot\1 researcher and subject are often used as sources of creative insigl1t t\1at are transferred into the research process. Liz Stanley and Sue Wise speak of women's subordinate position as fostering а "douЫe consciot1sness" througl1 the contradictions that arise when won1en study women. Another application of this method is through the use of specific consciousness-raising techn.i ques such as role playing, rap groups, simulations, and psychodrama, in а 1nore self-conscious, deliberate manner. These approaches have provided feminist researchers with а way to tap women's collective consciousness as а source of data and have provided participants in t\1e research process with а way to confirm the experiences of \Vomen which \1ave ofte11 been deвied as real in the past (Reinharz, 1983). In this co1lectio11 , Maria Mies describes her work in l11dia with "Sangam's" or viПag~ women' s groups w\1icl1 she organized into regional women's conferences with weekend retreats whe1·e women from 1nany villages could stay overnigl1t at the ]оса\ college. The estaЫishment of this communicatio11 anc1 social network empowered the women and helped them deal 1nore effectively witl1 а case of woman battering that occurred during the fieldwork. Similarly, Tl1elma McCormack (1981) proposes the use of simt1lations to examine processes suc\1 as persuasion апd pr0Ыem-solvi11g iп а controlled laboratory setting designed to e ncourage subjects' role flexibility and freedom from their personal biog1·aphies. She notes that simulatioп tec\1niques еnаЫе women to ignore history in formulating their behavior авd that such а me thod generates effective responses among subjects that result iп consciousness-raising.

Collaborative Scholarship Reflexivity is also evident iп feminist methodology through its e1nphasis on collaboration between women researchers (Cook, 1983). То some extent, this encouragement of collaboration is а reaction to the impetus for action discussed in а following section. But not only is collaboration а strategy for ameliorati11g the proЫems of scai·ce resources; there is also the expectation amoвg some scholars that feminist collaboi-ation will bring about а deeper intellectual ai1alysis, an original approach to framing the questions, with а mind-set of innovation

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to deal with the gendered coпtext of research . This has been described in ап analysis of а feminist sociology semiпar that g1·ew into а co1nmunity of gender scholars as membe rs left graduate school and e nte1·ed the profession (Richards011, Fonow and Cook, 1985). ln orde r to test whe the r won1en were more likely than n1e11 to coauthor scholarly pнЬlications, Kathryn В . Ward апd Linda Grant, in an aгticle included in this collectio11, analyzed patte m s of authorship in more tl1an 3,500 articles appeariпg in tеп major sociology journals over а te11-year period. They found tl1at being fen,ale and writing аЬонt gender increased the propensity to puЬlish joint-authored 1·atl1er thaп solo-aнthored work. Tl1ey also found t.l1at coaнthurship is least com111011 in high-statнs mainstrea1n national sociology joнrnals, sнggesting tl1at fe minists \vho prefe1· collaboration may in fact Ье at а disaclvantage "vhe n tl1e rewю·ds of the academy are 1neted онt.

Unexamined Stages of the Research Process One fiпc1l aspect of reflexivity occurs in regard to the typically "hidclen" ог unexamined stages of the research process. Feminists рау particular attention to these ignored phases of inqнiry for а variety of 1·easons. First, wome n have been unfairly exclнded from full participation in scholarsl1ip because of events that occur during sнch stages as obtaining funding or prese11ti11g thei1· resнlts to others (Cook and Fonow, 1986). ln this collection Laurel Richardsoп discusses how negotiating the de mands of the puЬlicity tour associated witli he r book changed the ways she saw herself as а woman, а sociologist, а feminist, апd а writer. Also iп this volнme, Liz Stanley and Sue Wise describe tl1e reactions of their male scholarly audieпce to preseпtation of their work on l1omophobic obscene phone calls. Atte11tio11 to ways iп which gender and sexual asy1nmetry transform the iпitial topic formнl ation , p1·esentation of' 1·esults to colleagues, and marketing of fe minist scholarship to \ау audiences are ways feminists seek а better нnders tanding of the political and social coпtex ts of tl1e production of knowledge. This und erstaпd i ng is then incorporated Ь у researchers into tl1e ways they think about research and plan fo1· its products. It is this orientation toward action to which we now turn.

Action Orientation Anothe r feature of thc feminist approach to research is the emphasis on action (Cook and Fonow, 1986). This action orie ntation is reflected iп the stateme nt of purpose, topic selection, theoretical orientation, choice of' me thod, view of human nature, and definitions of the 1·esearcher' s roles. This emphasis on action is something f'e min ists share with other traditions of social thought such as Black Studies, Maгxism , and Gay and Lesbian Studies. As more researche rs attempt to imple ment an actioп approach to 1·esearch, we begin to see а more critical reexamination and а mo1·e coп structi ve reformulation of the action age nda in research.



Po/itical Action ln feminist circles, the most common expression of action is found in intention: the aim of feminist research is liberation. This e mancipatory impulse сап

Ье found in positions ranging from а radical insistence that the purpose of

research is the total transformatioп of patriarchy апd corresponding empowerment of women, to the more libe ral iпsistence that specific attention Ъе paid to the policy implications of research оп women. At the more radical end of the continuum, Maria Mies continues to maintain tl1at the inte ntion and method of fe minist research should Ье consistent with the political goals of the women's movement, and that research should Ье fully integrated into social and political action for the emancipation of women. Writing in 1983, Mies proposed that "social change is the starting point of science, and in order to understand the content, form , and consequences of patriarchy, the researcher must Ье active]y invo]ved in the fight against it; one has to change something before it can Ье understood" (р. 125). Because intention alone does not guarantee outcome, feminist scho]ars must play active roles in the struggle for women's liberation in order to guard against the misuse of their theoretica] and methodological innovations. In her new article in this volume, Mies uses her own scholarship to illustrate how political organizing through the women's movement сап orient tl1e researcher to the selection of research topics that serves the needs and iпterests of the majority of women. Participation in а co,nmon struggle may reduce distance be tween the researcher and researched, opening up the possibi]ity that "knowledge-frombelow" can influence the research process. Such activi-ties force the individual to notice what was previous]y takeп for graпted. Methodologically, this implies а search for research techniques whicl1 take account of and record everyday processes, and which reduce the isolation between research participants.

Historical Perspectives



Documenting and analyzing past stгuggles through the construction of individual and group histories can lead to the development of mol"e sophisticated long-term strategies fol" socia] change. Vel"ta Taylor and Leila Rupp, in this collection, discovered througl, oral history interviews with the women who had helped to sustain the women's move1ne nt du1·ing the forties and ftfties that the strategies that enaЬ\ed them to survive were the same stl"ategies that limited their growth. They warn us that an uncl"itical exa1nination of the past or а simplistic valorization of ou,· fe1ninist ancestors will not help contemporary feminism build а diverse grassroots women's movement. The face to face confrontations these гesearchers had with their foremotl1ers led them to rethink and reevaluate not only their beliefs about the effectiveness of particular strategies for political and social chaпge, but also some of their beliefs about the nature of femini st research. РиЬ!iс


The action orientation of feminist research is also reflected in ,nore systemic ways through а focus on the policy implications of specific research findings. Iп

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1979, Jean Lipman-Blumen (1979) argued for tl1e necessity of developing research strategies and reporting styles appropriate for policy users. Research such as that of Ronnie Steinbe rg and Lois Haigпere iп this volume on different 1nethods of measuring рау equity has helped to answer tl1at earlier call for policy-ready research resнlts. Lip1naп-Blu1nen also cautioned that the relationship between policy and fe1ninist 1·eseai·ch is viewed differently Ьу the various constituencies of social change research. While resea1·cher, target groups, policy maker and com1nunity activist may all agree on the general goal of а specific piece of researcl1, each operates out of а different set of traditions which may create obstacles in commнnicating 1·eseai·ch 1·esults ancl foпnulating policy. The formation of research teaiлs composed of all four groups may Ье one way to transcend the barrie rs to cooperation and produce mоге useful research, perhaps one in1petus for the collaЬorative nature of feminist scl1olarship, described in а later section. Feminists enter the policy p1·ocess in а variety of ways. One way is through the estaЬlishment of researcl1 and policy centers. The Wo1nen's Research a•1d Edнcation Institute (WREI) serves as the research arm of the Congressional Caucus for Wo111en 's lssues and puЬlishes а directory of women's research centers around the country that link research on wo1ne n to puЬlic policy. The National Council for Research оп Women is an association representing fiftyseven cente rs and organizations that provide institutional resources for feminist research, policy analysis, and educational programs for women and girls. Feminist researche rs have been involved in social policy formation and implementation through research on comparaЬle worth , domestic violence, rape, pornography, displaced home makers, women and poverty, women's health issues, education, and employment. Our collection features а пu1nber of tЬese important policy studies as examples of tl1e pote ntial ability of feminist research to change the lives of women. Ronnie Steinberg and Lois Haigne re discuss the historical background and political i1nplications of con1paraЬle worth research and evaluate two methods of measur·ing рау equity. Paнline В. Bart, Linda N. Freeman, and Pe te r KimЬall demonstгate th ,·ougl1 tl1e t1se of mнltivariate analysis that men and women have very difiere11t attitt1des and opinions about pornography and that efforts to define commt111ity standarcls wjthout acknowledging gende r diffe re nces wjl) not serve 01· protect women. А concem for the quality of data нsed Ьу policy make rs has 1notivated some fe minist researchers to critique the sex-based biases of official governmeпt statistics and develop better ways to operationalize concepts as they apply to women. According to Ruth Dixon-~1ue11er, distorted statistics that uпclercou 11t Third World wome n's labor force paгti cipation in agricнltuгal activities not only impede theoretical understandiпg of sex stratificatio11 Ьut also lead to the creation and implementation of development plans that igno1·e or even harm women's interests. On the other hand, Christine Е. Bose makes creative use of U. S. census data to develop а household reso нrce 1nodel сараЬlе of testing а sophisticated reconce ptualization of the integration ot' wo1·k and family life at the tнrn of the century, thus giving us а more 1nultidir11ensional pictt1re of the factors associated with wom en's gainful e,nployment.



This type of empirica! work demonstrates the point made Ьу ТоЬу Epstein Jayaratne and Abigail J. Stewart that carefuHy designed research grounded in feminist theory and ethics is more useful to understanding women's experiences than an allegiance to any one particular me thod as more "feminist" than another. А well crafted quantitative study may Ье more useful to policy makers and cause less harm to women than а poorly crafted qualitative one. In addition, as Lynn Weber Cannon, Elizabeth Higginbotham, and Marianne L. А. Leung argue, class and race bias are just as likely to manifest themselves in the more qualitative research strategies often prefe1тed Ьу feminists over purely quantitative designs. These authors describe the extra measures they had to take to ensure that their qualitative study of professional/manage rial women included а representative san1ple of Ыасk respondents. Given the serious policy implications of much of feminist research, it is important to unclerstand tl1ei1· conclusions that in orde r to study race one 1nust Ье aware of class diffe rences among Ыасk women and work actively to recruit working and lo,ver class women so as not to bias the sample. Another way in ·which action is emphasized in feminist research is found in the move away fro1n the view of hнman nature as passive, always acted upon Ьу outside forces beyond tl1e individual's control, toward а view of the individual as actor сараЫе of resisting pressures to conform (Cook, 1983). The assu1nption that women confront, resist, and challenge gencler asymmetry in а myriad of different ways has oriented feminist researchers to search for signs of sabotage in every social setting. According to Patricia Hill Collins, а self-conscious Ыасk woman' s everyday behavior сап Ье а source of resistance and а form of activism. "People wl10 view themselves as fully human, as subjects, become activists, no matter how limited the sphere of their activis1n rnay Ье."

Dilemmas of ап Activist Stance The action orientatio11 of feminist research can create а number of ethical, political, and practical clile1n1nas. Because much of feminist research involves the personal and intimate lives of women and men, any intervention risks the possibility of disrupting relationships tl1at are pe rsonally satisfying to the participants and pe rhaps materially necessary for survival. Finch (1984) l'aises the question of ethics in feminist research when she questions the amount of cont!'ol feminists are аЫе to exert over the research process. Because women subjects identify more readily with women researchers, it may Ье too easy for subjects to reveal the intimate details of their lives. Feminists' attempts to reduce the power differential between themselves and those they research often employ equalitarian research techniques that generate trust. "Eacl1 interview can take on the aura of an intimate conversation and respoпdents can accept too eagerly what are ratЬer flimsy guarantees of confide ntiality" (р. 80). Since tl1ey ai·e often not iп а position to control how the data will Ье used, feminists 1nust take extra precautions not to betray the trust so freely given. Even if individual inte1·ests can Ье protected , the collective inte rests of women are at stake, and the latter, according to Fiпch, 1nay Ье

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much harder to secure. А feminist has а "special responsibility to anticipate ,vhether research findings сап Ье interpreted and used in ways quite differe nt fro1n her own intentions" (р. 83). In а similar vein, Jнdith Stacey (1988) warns that e thnographic met.hods, often valнed Ьу feminists Ьесанsе they reduce the distance between the researcher and the researched and accord the responde вt а 1nore active role in the research process, may Ье more J1armfuJ to sнbjects tЬав quantHati, e research methods. The emphasis on collaboration between researcher and researched masks the real power of the researche r, who has much greater control over the research process and product. Moreover, the researche.- is free to leave the fieJd at any time and is ge вei-ally the final aнthor of any account. Joan Acker and he r associates, i.n this volume, discuss the difficulties and dilemmas thay encounteгed when consciously attempting to apply ferninist principles to the researc\1 process. Т]1еу choose to exarnine the impact of women's entry or reentry into the paid labor force on the developrnent of· feminist consciousness because they saw the study of consciousness raising ?.s being consisteвt with the e mancipatory goals of the women's movement. А study of change could produce the kind of knowledge women themselves migl1t нsе to challenge the status quo. Furthennore, they seJected methodsrepeated in-depth interviews over time-that were nonoppressive and reduced the social distance between researcher and researcl1ed. They discovered, however, that the researched actively resisted efforts to Ье included as equal partne rs in the researchers' efforts to interpret the broader irnplications of tl1e changes they were experiencing. The researchers also discovered that studying change as а process was proЫ ematic, especially when research becomes а part of the change process. How can we distingнi sh the effects of returning to work from the consciousness-raising effects of participating in а feminist interviewing process? Which produced the change in consciousness? 1

Attention to the Affective Components of the Research Act Anothe r major feature of fem inist e pistemology is its refusal to ignore the emotional dimension of the conduct of inquiry. Fem inist researchers often attend specifically to the role of affect iл the prodн ctiou of knowledge. То some exte nt, this is an outgrowth of women's greater fa1n iliarity with the world of emotions and tl1eir meaning. At aлother level, however, this featuгe is also analyzed for the pнrposes of scholarship and innovation. Thu s, this aspect of epistemology involves not only acknowledgment of the affective di1nension of research, but also recognition that emotions serve as а s он1·се of i11sigl1t or а signal of rupture in social гeality (Cook, 1988а) . Caring and Emotionality

The notion that "women care" at both а practicaJ and ан iлte rpersoлal level is not а new idea (see, for example, Finch and Groves, 1983). Ca1·ol Gilligan' s



landmark research into male and female moral development found that caring is а major feature of how women view the world and resolve moral dilemmas (1982). Gilligan's research subjects showed great concern about protecting others from harm, and the question of "who gets hurt?" was often foremost in women's accounts. Similarly, this theme emerges in the writings of many feminist scholars, who describe their commitment to the welfare of their research subjects. This is evident in Verta Taylor and Leila Rupp's discussion of the decision-making process that led them to omit questions about lesbianism from their oral history interviews with elderly participants in the early women's rights movement. Patricia Hill Collins (1989) eloquently argues elsewhere that Ыасk feminist thought represents the convergence of Afrocentric and feminist values through the creation of an alternative epistemology based on the ethic of caring. The ethic of caring, used to validate knowledge claims, includes an emphasis on individual uniqueness, the acceptance of the appropriateness of emotions in dialogue, and the cultivation of the capacity for empathy. Many feminist scholars connect emotional intimacy between female respondents to the notion of reciprocity between the researcher and researched. Some of the authors in this collection discuss the difficult yet rewarding "transitioll to friendship" that occurs with informants. Joan Acker and her associates describe the difficulties and rewards of piercing the methodological dictum of noninvolvement with one' s subjects. One of these benefits is the higher quality of information possiЬle as а result of mutual disclosure. Others write about the therapeutic value of research for participants. For example, Maria Mies describes how the research she conducted on women's village organizations in the rural Indian state of Andhra Pradesh enaЬled the women to pool their "sнbjectivity and concem," something she calls "affectedness. " This affectedness, in turn, is а result of victimization and conscientization and consists of а feeling of angry rebellion, а reaction that must Ье translated into action to avoid becoming self-defeating and demoralizing. In another way, Liz Stanley and Sне Wise discuss how turning the obscene phone calls they were already receiving into а subject of inquiry became а way to manage sexism in their personal (i.e. , home) environment. This willingness to admit to the therapeutic value of participation in the research process is s01newhat novel and may represent а unique contribution of feminist epistemology.

Dealing with Negative Feelings Also included in their discussion of emotions is а willingness to address what happens when the research act evokes нegative reactions for the investigator and her subjects. Feminist schola1·s have steadfastly refused to ignore tl1is dimension of their work. Thus, Verta Taylor and Leila Rupp in this volume address the issue of how to 1nanage when one discove rs tl1at older "feminists" behave in what are considered "une nlightened" ways. They encountered this situation when leaders of the "between-waves" women' s movement expressed

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negative opinions about lesbians and bisexuals, tl1ose from lower class Ьack­ grounds, and female militancy. Joan Acker and her colleagues also found tЬat sharing t11eir interpretations could Ье upsetting to wornen respondents, especially given large differences iп class and educational background between tl1e investigators and informants. As these authors poiпt out, suЬjects have expectations regarding what it is like to Ье interviewed апd they oti:en want investigators to act accordiпgly. Rather than ignoring the complexities of пegotiating t111pleasant interactioпs in the field , feminist episte1nology involves explicit attention to these experiences, analysis of their meaning, and the incorporation of conclusions into furilier inquiry. Attention to the affective components of inquiry represents an atte1npt among feminist scholars to restore the emotional dimensioп to tЬе current conceptions of rationality. As the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School argued, the concept of reason in 20th ceпtury social science has Ьееп sti-ipped of its affective content, so that objectivity and unemotionality came to Ье seer, as interchangeaЫe (Horkheimer, 1976). Feminist schola,·s, as Alison Jaggar (1989:164) argues, have attempted to rescue emotion from its discarded role in the creation of knowledge. Jaggar contends that feminist scholars as well as scholars from other oppressed groups have developed "outlaw emotions" that afford them the unique opportunity to r,reate alternative epistemologies, ones that "would show how our emotional responses to the world change as we conceptualize it differently and how our changing emotional responses then stimulate us to new insights. " Attention to these e1notions beco1nes а part of the critical reflexivity, discussed earlier, that we believe characterizes feminist approaches to knowledge.

Use of the Situation at Hand Feminist approaches to research are often characte rized Ьу an emphasis оп creativity, spontaneity, and improvisation in the selection of both topic and method (Cook and Fonow, 1986). This includes the tendency to use alreadygiven situations both as the focus of investigation and as а means of collecting data. Concern with the Everyday Life World

There are а number of factors that inspire tl1e willingness of feminists to try unconventional approaches. Theoretical advances in etl1nometl1odology, ph eпom enology, and dramaturgy have made it possiЬle, as well as legitimate, to study the taken-for-granted, rnundane features of everyday life. For women, these routine aspects of everyday life help to sustain gender inequality. Analysis of "common courtesies," linguistic practices, commercial advertisements, and even tombstone inscriptions have revealed the cultuгal no1·ms and assumptions governing gender relations. This concerп with the ordinary extends itself



to the selection of rese:=i.rch settings such as beauty parlors, children's playgrot1nds, weigl1t watche rs meetings, and shopping malls, and research topics such as volunteeris1n , rneal pre paration, and husband maintenance. 1 Feminists seem pa1iicularly adept at recognizing the opportunities availaЫe in unforeseen settings to study otherwise-hidden processes. Once а researcher finds herself in а particular situation and recogпizes the research pote ntial in he r surroundings, sl1e may decide to 1nake а study of it. For example, Laurel Richardson saw her book tour as an opportunity to study the impact of the "going puЬlic" process on he r view of he rself, he r role as а researcher, and her feminist values. Stнdying the situation at hand may also Ье seen as а "vay in which the feminist researche r п1anages he r own experiences of sexism. The decision Ьу Liz Stanley and Sue Wise to study obscene phone calls they received afte r t.heir phone numbers were used in puЬlic ads for lesbian support groups was made as а way to соре with their sense of personal assault. They decided to te rminate the study wheп they could no longe r rnanage the antipathy they felt toward the male calle rs. Aпother way in which an already-given situation becomes an opportнnity for research is exemplified when the researche r actively intervenes in an ongoing event as а way to unde rstand а particular process. The researche r changes the situation, then studies it. For exarnple, Maria Mies' s project tearning Third World wornen students with Dutch fe rninist groups arose frorn her expe riences as developer and coordinator of а Wornen and Developrne nt prograrn at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. After conviпcing her rnostly male colleagues that "fieldwork" could Ье scholarship, Mies_opened up he r Women and Development course to nonminority wornen Dutch students for the first time. Interestingly, these students served as inte rrnediaries betweeп the Third World women students and the Dutch wome11's groups, arraпging contacts and doing translation . Utilizing the situation at hand is а tne thodological strategy that is well suited to circumstances in which nonreactive data gathe ring is essential. Often, the research subjects in an already-given setting have little control over the events eithe r because they have already occurred or because they occurred for some reason other than research. lt is unlikely, for example , that the obscene phone callers in the Stanley and Wise study would have been so honest about their prejudiced, violent feelin gs toward women and lesbianism in an interview or qнestionnaire situation. lnnovation as


Reaction to Exclusion

Exclusionary practices in Held settings may limit the access of women researchers to records, people, or activities; therefore, fe minists have to Ье particulaI"ly resourceful when it comes to getti11g aroнnd these obstacles. Mary Margaret Fonow (1980) found it пecessary to arrange interviews with female Steelworkers Union convention delegates in the women's restrooms when union officials barred her access to the coпve ntion floor. Hacker (1980) was аЫе

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to use the obstacles she encountered as а 1najor source of data in her stнdy of agribusi11ess and its i1npact оп wo1neп апd minority workers. Her aпalysis suggests ways to figl1t fire witЬ fire wЬеп опе e пcounters resistance from gatekeepe rs in the field . While all good field 1·esearcЬers need to know how to maпeuver around obstacles, we Ьeli eve that women , especially fe mi11ist investigators, face specia1 proЬ\ems wl1e п tЬеу occupy tЬе role of "low-caste stranger" (D aпiels, 1967) and wl1eп tl1eir topics are perceived as coпtrove,·sia\. ТЬе ability of femiпists to transform the s itt1atioп at haпd iпto а research opportuпity may Ье а surviva] mechanism . The t1пder-representation of women iп traditioпa] research iпstHution s and the lack of adeqt1ate fuпds for femiпist researchers forces feminists to Ье vei-y oppoi-tt1пistic iп their choice of topic, setting, апd 1n etЬ od (Cook a11d Fo нow, 1986). lt may also Ье the case that tl1ose scholars who jt1ggle multiple roles select situations at l1aпd as а way to conserve scarce resources. Children's play g1·ot1ps, Little League, РТА , апd other everyday settiпgs iп the lives of womeп loom lai-ge as potential sources of iпsigl1t and iпп ovatio п .

Summary and Integration These four treпds do поt coпstitute ап exhaustive list, nor are t\1e categories entirely separaЬ\e. In sorne cases tЬе situation at haпd is itself а political action; in others , emotional reactions of the researcher and her subjects are themselves the object of reflection. Yet these four features run like threads throughout the articles in this volume and elsewhere, indicating some degree of· cohesiveness in outlook. All the themes are connected to the subordiпate nature of won1en's status iп the research ente rprise and the larger society. First, the process of ref1ection is seen as enlighte ning due to women 's oppressed position that enaЬ\es а view from the 'Ъottom up," and stems from womeп 's capacity to deal with inequality throнgh intimate knowledge of their oppressors. Secoпd, political action is Ьу its very definition tied to women's disadvantageous location iп tЬе social class hierarchy. Third, the e motional context of research expe riences may Ье heigЬt­ e ned when "rupture points" provide а locus for analysis give n the volatile nature of life expe rie nces such as rape, divorce, cliscrimination, and unemployme nt. Finally, scholars with lesser access to research resources (rnoпey, research assistants, offi ce space, support staff) h1m more frequeпtly to tЪ eir immed iate (at hand) enviroпm ent for topics and research settings. lt is thus pos s iЬ\e to re1ate wom eп 's societa] and professional positioнs to tЬ е kinds of гesearch they produce and the ways they produce it. These features of fe minist research also refl ect the posihoo of fe rni11is1n in today's research institutions. A1though there are some outlets for pt1Ьlicatioп , many mainstream joumals are suspicioнs of femiпist e pistemological assнmp­ tioпs , especially if they are accompanied Ьу qнalitative methodologies. Finally, siпce we began this review asserting that femiпist research is molded Ьу historical апd cultural conditioпs , it is important to identify these coпditioпs



as well as their implications. While tbls is rightly а subject for а separate study, there are several current trends that соте to mind. An important set of influences are those in today' s climate of social science research. Many of the issues that confront women today-poverty, violence against women, sexismare not "fundaЬle" research topics at federal or foundation levels. The decline of availaЬle funding for research is one trend which has surely hampe red feminist inquiry. At another level, the co-optation of feminist research agendas to the paler topics of "research оп" rather than "research for" women has done little to direct attention to epistemological considerations. The current emphasis on computer technology can also Ье viewed as having an impact on feminist research, given the location of such technology within institutional settings that may exclude feminists, and given the types of questions that are more appropriate to statistical approaches. At the same time, it would have been impos siЬle to collect these articles and perform this survey if а tradition of feminist attention to epistemological and methodological questions had not been already in existence. Even within а hostile academic environment, feminist scholars have repeatedly tumed to issues that plague their investigations. Without а critique well enough developed to allow investigators to innovate and revise, there would Ье 110 impe tus for the on-going development of feminist thought in regard to inquiry. Perhaps socialization of today's scholars in а historical climate of social movement activity over the past two decades has helped feminist academics to qнestion the statнs quo they encounter in the research enterprise. Tl1e necessary c1·itical impetus сап only continue to develop if we insist оп the inclusion of fe minist epistemological and me thodological insights within our individual disciplines, and this goal сап Ье achieved Ьу the application of the reader' s "critical le ns" to articles such as those presented here. It is our goal that this volume serve such а purpose.

NOTE 1. AII of these are actual research topics or settings of master's or doctoral thesis work pursued Ьу feminist scholars who were part of а gracluate sociology of gender class at Ohio State University (Rjchardson e t al., 1985).

REFERENCES Collins, Patricia Hill (1989). The social construction of Ьlack feminist thought. Signs 14 ~~-


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Cook, Judith А. (1983). Ао inte!'disciplioary look at feminist me thodology: Ideas and practice io sociology, histoгy, aod anthropology. Hu,nboldt Journal of Social Relations 10, 127-52. --- ( 1988а). Who "mothe rs" the chronically mentally ill? Family Relations 37, 4.2-49. - - - ( 1988Ь). lntegratiog femioist epistemology and qualitative fami\y research. Qt1alitative Family Research Network Newsletter 2, 3-5. Cook, Judith А. , and Mary Margaret Fonow (1984). Am I my sister's gatekeeper? Caнtionary tales from the academic hierarchy. Humanity and Society 8, 442-52. - - - (1986). Knowledge and women's interests: Issues of epistemology anti methodology in feminist sociological research. Sociological lnquiry 56, 2-29. Daniels, Arlene (1967). The low-caste stranger in social research . lo G. Sjoberg (ed.), Ethics, Politics and Social Research. Cambridge: Schenkman. - -- (1983). Self-d eceptioп and self-discoveгy in fieldwo1·k. Qualitative Sociology 6, 195-214. DuBois, \1/. Е. В . (1969). The souls of Ыackfolks. New York : New Ame rican Libraгy. Finch, Janet (1984). "It's great to have someone to talk to": The e thics and politics of interviewiпg ,vоше11. l 11 С. Bell апd Н . Roberts (eds.), Social Researching: Polit·ics, Problems, Practice. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Fincb, Janet, a11d Dulcie Groves, (eds.) (1983). А labour of love: Women, work an(J caring. Loпdon : Roнtledge and Kegan Paul. Fonow, Магу Margaret (1980). Feminism and uпion participatioп: The case of ,vomen steelworkers. Paper p resented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, New York. Freire, Paulo (1970). The pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder. Gilligan, Carol (1982). ln а different voice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Gurney, J . N. (1985). Not one ofthe guys: The female researcher in а male dominated setting. Qualitative Sociology 8, 42-62. Ha