Sie sind auf Seite 1von 16

In unstructured interviews respondents are seen to have their own agency, selfho od, and thus are not

simply 'respondents' answering the questions posed by the i nterviewer. The interview style is generally unstructured and interviewees have the freedom to tell their biographical stories in their own way, although there may be some gentle guidance offered by the interviewer in order to keep the narr ative going. The method has some overlap with the semi-structured interview, in that the interviewer may have a very simple schedule, but in the unstructured in terviews that may not be strictly followed. Feminist interviews The feminist interview method encourages and promotes a more reflexive and recip rocal approach and seeks to neutralise the hierarchical, exploitative power rela tions that were claimed to be inherent in the more traditional interview structu re. This is a technique also adopted by other interview methods such as oral his tory, which will be discussed later. Through social research, feminist methods go beyond studying women as objects of investigation. Rather they seek to challenge gender inequalities in social rese arch and to motivate emancipatory, political change of women's experiences in so ciety. Moreover, feminist research is primarily concerned with gender relations and this includes masculinities as well as femininities. Contemporary feminist a pproaches acknowledge gender inequality and seek to incorporate an awareness of gender relations in the analysis and through a reflexive understanding of interv iews. Historically, social scientific research methods have marginalised, inadequately represented, and even excluded, women's experiences. In addition, the feminist researcher's primary motivations are to empower women and to restructure the imb alance of equality in understanding women's experiences. In short, feminist rese arch challenges both the knowledge which is produced and the methods of producin g knowledge. Feminists have described the traditional interview as a site for the exploitatio n and subordination of women, with the interviewers potentially creating outcome s against their interviewees' interests (Hollway and Jefferson, 2000). One way i n which feminist researchers have addressed this problem is through treating the interview as co-constructive. For example, in traditional interview formats the interviewer directs the questioning and takes ownership of the material; in the feminist interview method the woman would recount her experiences in her own wo rds with the interviewer serving only as a guide to the account. This research method rejects the positivistic ideal of producing an impersonal, value-free and objective account of experience. Instead, feminist researchers cl aim that developing a rapport with interviewees is an essential part of establis hing trust, respect and maintaining an empathetic position. Many feminist resear chers suggest that a closer relationship with interviewees can produce a more va lid and meaningful account of women's experiences. However, recent work on femin ist methodology incorporates concepts with 'difference' and shows how sometimes a shared gender is not sufficient as a means of establishing rapport. See for ex ample Riessman (1987), and Wilkinson and Kitzinger (1996). This concern with dif ference is a central tenet of contemporary feminist theory. Structured interviews Structured interviewing involves asking each interviewee the same set of standar dised questions. The order of questioning is fixed and wording is usually specif ic: there is little scope for probing or deviating from the specified agenda. Th e questions and the responses given tend to fit into predetermined categories, c onfirming or disconfirming the hypothesis the interviewer is pursuing. In studie s where interviewers need to make comparisons between responses from different i nterviewees, they will require their interviews to be more structured, so that t

he same issues are covered by each respondent (Arthur and Nazroo, 2003). This me thod is more closely related to the methods used in large-sample surveys and is usually based on a positivist epistemology. The Semi-structured and Unstructured Interview In contrast to the quantitative paradigm, qualitative researchers are generally more concerned with validity, rather than objectivity and reliability, and put l ess emphasis on finding "the truth". Semi and unstructured interviews are method s widely used in feminist research as they are claimed to "convey a deeper feeli ng for or more emotional closeness to the persons studied" (JAYARATNE 1983, p.14 5). Feminist researchers, greatly influenced by the work of Ann OAKLEY, make eve ry effort to conduct interviews in a way that does not further oppress the parti cipant. They attempt to actively involve the participant in the research process as much as possible. They reject the use of the word "subject" that implies the participant is an insensate object to be experimented on and observed like an a nimal in a zoo. Although a more equal relationship between the researcher and pa rticipant is often cited as increasing the validity of the research, this is not the primary reason feminist researchers insist upon this relationship. Feminist researchers are working within the wider women's liberation movement and are wo rking towards the overall aim of all women being free from oppression. It is hen ce clearly not acceptable for researchers to further oppress women in the name o f academic research. [21] Historically malestream [sic] textbooks have documented the way an interview sho uld be conducted, for example recommending distance between the interviewer and interviewee, not revealing the feelings or standpoint of the researcher, and not sharing knowledge. These guidelines were questioned by interactionist sociologi sts such as Howard BECKER (1971), who suggested that interviews should be more c onversational in nature, and feminists such as Ann OAKLEY have argued that this is particularly salient when interviewing women. She argues that traditional gui delines contradict the aims of feminist research (OAKLEY 1981) and that for a fe minist interviewing women, the "use of prescribed interviewing practice is moral ly indefensible (and) general and irreconcilable contradictions at the heart of the textbook are exposed" (p.41; see OAKLEY 1981 for examples of textbooks). [22 ] Interview techniques have been adapted by interpretivist sociologists and femini st researchers to be more participant-friendly and these guidelines have been in tegrated into many mainstream contemporary textbooks (for example BURGESS 1984). [23] Traditional research methods textbooks also advise against conducting research i n which you are emotionally involved in some way, in the guise that this will mi nimise the supposed objectivity of the study. It has conversely been argued that a close and equal relationship to the researched can actually lead to an acquis ition of more fruitful and significant data (FINCH 1984; OAKLEY 1981). Clara GRE ED (1990) writes of similar issues when she discusses her experience as a femini st surveyor while researching the position of women in surveying. She sees resea rch as a two-way interaction, and writes So I am studying a world of which I myself am part, with all the emotional invol vement and accusations of subjectivity that this creates. I do not attempt to ke ep my surveyors at arm's length and do research "on" them as my subjects whilst maintaining a dominant position, as is common in much traditional "objective" re search (p.145). [24] This was the perspective that I adopted when interviewing female taxi drivers ut ilising my personal experience as a night shift taxi driver (WESTMARLAND 2001). I found that rather than hindering the research process this downplayed the rese archer's new academic status, resulting in a more relaxed environment for both t

he interviewer and interviewee. The interviewees were also encouraged to invent their own pseudonyms in an attempt to further balance power relations. [25] The interview can therefore be complementary, rather than oppositional, to surve y research. Rather than the "us against them" relationship, interviews can give a deeper, more complex knowledge of the issues named by survey research. For exa mple if we are faced with a chocolate, we can see from the outside that it is a chocolate, however we must delve deeper to discover whether it is hard or soft, has a hazelnut or an orange centre, and so on. It is this inner knowledge that i s gained by interviews. They also allow us to validate to some degree what we ha ve found in related quantitative research. The chocolate that looked like a haze lnut from the outside may turn out to have a soft orange centre when more closel y examined. As described in the previous section where survey research was used to inform governments of the prevalence of women's issues, interviews allow us t o delve deeper and more fully explain these issues. It is therefore not enough t o simply know, for example, that women are more likely to be raped by acquaintan ces (45% of rapes; HARRIS & GRACE 1999) or intimates (43% of rapes) than by stra ngers (12% of rapes), and that only 6% of rape cases reported to the police resu lt in a conviction (HARRIS & GRACE 1999), we need to know how this affects the l ives of women. Feminism is primarily a movement for social change and only by de lving deeper than the surface can we find out not only what needs to be changed, but also how it can be changed. [26] 5. Conclusion This paper has described not feminist research methods, but rather research meth ods adapted for feminist use. What has traditionally been seen as a strength of quantitative research, namely objectivity, has been shown to reflect the subject ive knowledge of the researcher and hence reveals the false dichotomization of o bjectivity and subjectivity, and of quantitative and qualitative methods. Withou t this unnecessary opposition the usefulness of mixed method research can be rea lised and feminist perspectives on research can be acknowledged simply as "good" research. I have demonstrated the usefulness of quantitative methods in the nam ing of women's oppression and also the usefulness of qualitative methods for del ving further and using feminist research for change within the women's liberatio n movement. Although a survey may be the best way to discover the prevalence of problems, interviews are needed to fully understand women's experiences and theo rise these experiences with a view towards social change. For example, a survey can tell us that women working outside the home generally get paid less than men , but does not explain how this makes women feel and how it affects their lives as a whole. [27] Why feminists do feminist research Why feminism?

`The most central and common belief shared by all feminists, w hatever our "type" is the presupposition that women are oppressed. It is from t his common acceptance that there is indeed a problem, that there is something am iss in the treatment of women in society, that feminism arises.' (Stanley and Wi se, 1983)

If there is a central reason why feminists do feminist research it revolves arou nd the need to know and understand better the nature of the hurt we sustain as a group - a group which is subordinated on the grounds of our female gender. Thi s is not `knowledge for its own sake' but rather is knowledge explicitly dedicat

ed to bringing about change and improvement in our situation as women.

Different ways of seeing `the problem' (and `the solution')

There are many different views amongst women who identify themselves as feminist s about what our oppression entails, what are its sources and what should be don e about it. For example, some feminists see the problem of women as one of havi ng been `left out' - of positions of power, from written history, and from every day conversations. Others may see the problem as one of having been actively ex cluded through a more or less deliberate, even if unconscious effort by men. Ot hers may question the kinds of situations women have been left out of or exclude d from, and not want to be included (or fight for) positions that are elitist an d oppressive. Some may see the matter as originating from men's fear and contem pt for women, or from men's greater physical power, or from a determination not to lose historical and economic advantages over women, or from habitual socialis ation, or a combination of these.

Some women may see the answer in asking men to change their ways. Others may se e it more as a matter of having to make demands in the face of inevitable resist ance, requiring a far more concerted attack. Some may devote their energies to the reform of social institutions to include women. Some may turn away altogeth er from men and the organisations they control and concentrate instead on streng thening women as a group from within and to examining all existing knowledge wit h a view to constructing new knowledge in women's interests. Kath Davey reminds us of Shug's words to Celie in the film `The Colour Purple': `You can't see any thing at all till you git man off your eyeball.' Some may see this move as stra tegic, while others may see it as a permanent solution to `the problem of men'. Some women will seek to increase their education and income levels, own their o wn homes, `reclaim the night', organise collectively for equal pay, or seek each other out for support. Women may call themselves radical feminists, socialist feminists, humanist feminists, separatist feminists, femocrats, liberal feminist s and so on, to express in shorthand form their different positions on `the prob lem'.

All of these different `feminisms' lead to women's differing interests in topics for research, differing preference for techniques, differing theories for inter preting what they see as going on, and differing conclusions about what new acti ons to take. What makes Feminist Research Feminist? The Structure of Feminist Research within the Social Sciences Written, edited and revised by Jennifer Brayton This essay has been presented at several conferences, and is copyrighted to Jenn ifer Brayton, 1997-present. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------Introduction Definitions of Principal Concepts Qualitative and Quantitative Research: Differences and Similarities Feminist Criticisms of the Qualitative/Quantitative Debate

Defining Feminist Research Some Limits with Feminist Research Conclusions -------------------------------------------------------------------------------"Feminist research . . . consists of no single set of agreed upon research guide lines or methods. Nor have feminists agreed upon one definition of feminist rese arch" (Maguire, 1987, p. 74) Introduction What makes feminist research feminist? Having read through a wide range of femin ist research papers as well as feminist essays on methods and methodology, it ha s become apparent that what makes feminist research uniquely feminist are the mo tives, concerns and knowledge brought to the research process. As this paper wil l illustrate and argue, certain themes seem to consistently arise when authors a ttempt to define feminist research. While there is no standard agreement over wh at constitutes feminist research, many authors seem to draw upon certain element s as defining features to feminist research. These features help distinguish fem inist research from traditional social sciences research, research that studies women, and research that attends to gender. This essay will act as the starting point into discussing the shape and forms of feminist research. Definitions of Principal Concepts "Feminist theory - of all kinds - is to be based on, or anyway touch base with, the variety of real life stories women provide about themselves" (Lugones and Sp elman, 1990, p. 21). If feminists have not been able to agree upon the structure of feminist research , it may be due to the lack of agreement over what constitutes feminism as theor y and practice. As I utilize the term, feminism is about challenging gender ineq ualities in the social world. While I fundamentally recognize differences in soc ial location, such as orientation, age and race, as structuring the way women ex perience their lives as women, I believe that at a basic level feminism recogniz es the organizing of the social world by gender. This is not to suggest that fem inism is a singular unifying theory but that the overarching element to differen t feminist theorizing is the attention to gender. As Patricia Maguire sums up mo re concretely: "Feminism is: (a) a belief that women universally face some form of oppression or exploitation; (b) a commitment to uncover and understand what c auses and sustains oppression, in all its forms and (c) a commitment to work ind ividually and collectively in everyday life to end all forms of oppression" (Mag uire, 1987, p. 79). Similarly, much debate has occurred historically over the definitions and constr uctions of research terminology. While methods, methodology and epistemology are all connected and interrelated as research concepts, they are separate and dist inct terms that refer to different aspects of research as process. Methods are t he tools and techniques used to gather evidence, information and data. Methods a re the research practices chosen by the researcher, be it qualitative or quantit ative methods. Methodology addresses theoretical questions about the study of re search and how research is done. As Sandra Harding suggests in the introduction to Feminism and Methodology: "A methodology is a theory and analysis of how rese arch does and should proceed" (Harding, 1987, p. 3). Epistemology concerns theor ies about knowledge construction by questioning whose knowledge is validated and what constitutes knowledge. It is the philosophy of knowing, the construction a nd authentication of certain forms of knowledge. Qualitative and Quantitative Research: Differences and Similarities

"Qualitative research thus refers to the meanings, concepts, definitions, charac teristics, metaphors, symbols and descriptions of things. In contrast, quantitat ive research refers to counts and measures of things" (Berg, 1995, p. 3). Typically, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies are constructed a s distinct research processes. At a basic level, qualitative research commonly r efers to the collection and the analysis of material that seeks to uncover meani ng and understanding of experience. By contrast, quantitative research is about the collection and analysis of numerical data - the social facts. Certain method s and research techniques are associated with these difference research processe s. Qualitative research strategies traditionally include ethnographies, fieldwor k, participant observation, content analysis, interviews and oral histories (Ber g, 1995, p. 3). Quantitative methods typically include questionnaires, surveys, studying rates, variables and relationships between social factors. The construc tion of these methods as relating to either qualitative or quantitative research are grounded in methodological choices. One chooses research methods on the bas is of what one is seeking to uncover, be data and information in the form of num bers or meanings. The difference between the two research processes is structured in terms of meth odology and epistemology. From a methodological standpoint, what is being sugges ted is that qualitative and quantitative research is conducted for different rea sons. How the data is acquired and the process of attaining data for each is see n as radically different. The fundamental difference is organized around the mat erial being assessed, between research based on data that can be counted and dat a that is experiential (Jayaratne, 1983, p. 144). These differences are also tal ked about in terms of epistemology. Qualitative research is thought to value sub jective, personal meaning and definition, commonalities and giving voices to the oppressed. In contrast, quantitative research is constructed in terms of testin g theories and make predictions in an objective, value free way where the resear cher is detached from both the participants and the research process. But qualitative and quantitative social science research both seek to uncover th e richest possible data from a setting or situation. The overall goal of social science research is to capture and accurately convey "reality", be it the realit y of an event or experience or the truth of a population. Both research processe s start from the interests of the researchers - they determine what to study as a topic and field of analysis. Qualitative researchers may be more open in bring ing this to light by trying to acknowledge their own social location and startin g point. However, quantitative research also starts with a researcher asking a q uestion based on her/his own interest in a particular field. The language of qua ntitative research simply does not permit the question to be asked about why this research , because of the built-in and unquestioned emphasis on objectivity and n eutrality. In social science research, the researcher has confidence that the material is u nbiased in accurately representing social reality. In quantitative research, thi s is assessed in terms of objectivity, maintaining a space between the researche d and the researched so that the researcher is not influenced by the research pr ocess. In qualitative research, neutrality is possible by removing the distance between the researcher and the participant to ensure biases the researcher bring s into the research are acknowledged and that the participant can confirm the va lidity of the depiction of their experience and social reality. As an illustrati on, with participatory research, the goal is the inclusion of the participant s pe rspective and voice in all aspects of the research process. "Participatory resea rch proposes returning to ordinary people the power to participate in knowledge creation, the power that results from such creation, and the power to utilize kn owledge" (Maguire, 1987, p. 39). The assumption behind this agenda is that the m aterial revealed will be more accurate and objective in representing the reality

of the social experience and situation. By including the participants in the pr ocess, it is felt that the data will be unbiased and more truthful in representi ng the event in agreement with the participant. In both instances, the overall o bjective for social science research is for the data to be accurate and represen tative of the situation. At the heart of it, both qualitative and quantitative research share a common me thodological and epistemological agenda: control. In quantitative research, the element of control is suggested by the belief that there are variables that must be controlled. This is grounded in the epistemological base of objectivity and neutrality. Without control of the research, bias will appear and distort the re sults. In qualitative research, the researcher is seeking, through methodology, to capture the best representation of social reality. The goal of this research is to have the meaning and experience of the event conveyed in the most realist manner. The inclusion and recognition of the influence held by the researcher fa cilitates a greater control over the degree of accuracy of the data in represent ing the participant s reality. Historical arguments have constructed social scienc e research into different camps, qualitative and quantitative, a distinction tha t has come into question. Feminist Criticisms of the Qualitative/Quantitative Debate "Attending to the basic significance of gender involves accounting for the every day experiences of women which have been neglected in traditional sociology" (Co ok and Fonow, 1986, p. 22). As many contemporary feminist researchers suggest, there is no actual difference between qualitative and quantitative research since both are inherently biased in their definitions and depictions of social reality. Patricia Maguire points t o the fact that the arguments made by researchers for the importance and validit y of alternative (qualitative) research compared to traditional (quantitative) r esearch still are ignorant in attending to gender. "Feminism allowed me to see t he male bias common to both dominant and alternative paradigms" (Maguire, 1987, p. 76). In the dominant/alternative research model debate, only men were thought to have argued for the creation of an alternative perspective. As she points ou t, that belief is, in itself, biased and androcentric. Feminism brings another d imension to this debate, where feminist research versus patriarchal research cro sses paths with qualitative versus quantitative research strategies. Shulamit Reinharz attempts to summarize the claims of social science research as being common to both qualitative and quantitative research. She differentiates between conventional or mainstream sociology and alternative/feminist sociology. With the former, she sees the objectives of research as being oriented around b eliefs in impersonalness, objectivity, generalizability, control of events, repl icability and predefinitions of the situation (Reinharz, 1983, p. 168). While th e traditional debate on qualitative and quantitative tends to suggest these clai ms as being quantitative, as she argues, these same elements exist and are part of qualitative research as well. Traditional social science research can not be broken down into qualitative and quantitative processes, since as a disciple, so cial science research is still fundamentally flawed. Qualitative research is as much grounded in assumptions about objectivity as quantitative research has grou nding in subjective biases. The true epistemological difference in research meth ods lies between traditional social science research and feminist research. Feminists have argued that qualitative and quantitative research models are bias ed because they present distorted knowledge about the world. The knowledge that has been reflected has been with a specific orientation in mind: that of men, an d more specifically, white, middle class, heterosexual men. "Institutions, parad

igms, and other elements of knowledge validation procedure controlled by elite w hite men constitute the Eurocentric masculinist validation process. The purpose of this process is to represent white male standpoint" (Hill Collins, 1990, p. 2 03). What is being defined as human knowledge is, in fact, specifically male kno wledge and the focus of feminist epistemology has been on the location of men as "the source of knowledge" (Hawkesworth, 1989, p. 539). This bias is never addre ssed as an issue or problem in traditional social science research. As feminism challenges traditional social science research, it supports its argu ments by recognizing that patriarchal values and beliefs in our social world sha pe both the construction and definition of how research is done and how knowledg e is determined. Male bias in the world determines how and why research is done and shapes the interpretation of data. Fundamentally, traditional social science research with its claims to objectivity (in both qualitative and quantitative m ethods) is flawed because it does not recognize how its own biases impact on the research process from the choice of a topic to the final presentation of data. Defining Feminist Research "Empirical feminist research is guided by feminist theory" (Reinharz, 1992, p. 2 49) Doing research is a process that involves an on-going series of decisions and ch oices. Overall, feminist research is uniquely feminist because it is feminist be liefs and concerns that act as the guiding framework to the research process. Me thodologically, feminist research differs from traditional research for three re asons. It actively seeks to remove the power imbalance between research and subj ect; it is be politically motivated and has a major role in changing social ineq uality; and it begins with the standpoints and experiences of women. Sandra Hard ing makes similar claims to the defining features of feminist research when she argues that studying women from their perspective, recognizing the researcher as part of the research subject and acknowledging that the beliefs of the research er shape the research is what makes feminist research feminist. As she states, " They can be thought of as methodological features because they show us how to ap ply the general structure of scientific theory to research on women and gender" (Harding, 1987, p. 9). This section will discuss in-depth the features that shap e and define what is meant by feminist research. First, the unequal power relationship between the researcher and the subject is restructured to validate the perspective of the participant. The premise is to r emove the hierarchical relationship between researcher and participant. Changing research terminology from one of hierarchy to one of equality is the first step . Many authors talk about the use of "participant" as a preferred term to the us e instead of "subject" or researched". However, addressing the imbalance in power relations between researched and researched is more than simply changing the la nguage of research. Changing the power relationship would entail involving the p articipants at all levels of the research process. Recognizing the participants as the experts and authorities on their own experie nces is taken as the starting point to research. Participants are part of the so cial world and as critical thinkers are also conscious and aware of the patterns of social relationships that can impact upon their own lived realities. As Dian a Ralph indicates, it is important that feminist researchers recognize and ident ify the women engaged as participants are "often actively working to change the conditions of their oppression" (Ralph, 1988, p. 139). One of the concerns of fe minist research is to ensure the accuracy of the research in depicting women s liv es and experiences. It is important for the researcher to take the finalized inf ormation back to the participants for verification, since they are the experts a

nd owners of their own personal experiences. While the standard within tradition al social science research is to see the research as "owned" by the researcher, feminist research that seeks to restructure inequality also seeks to remove the notion of ownership of knowledge (Wolf, 1996, p. 3). Maintaining the originality and authenticity of how the participants give meaning to their experiences is a lso part of what constitutes changing the power imbalance in feminist research. "A feminist method gave me the flexibility to be able to relate to women in subj ective ways on their terms rather than in objective ways on the researchers terms " (Edwards, 1990, p. 489). Recognizing the researcher as part of the research process also constitutes chan ging the power relation between the researcher and the participant. The social l ocation of the researcher (e.g. age, race, orientation, class) plays a role in s haping the research process. It is important for the researcher to identify thei r own location in order to address biases that may result from their own locatio n in the social world. "Our own frameworks of understanding need to be criticall y examined as we look for the tensions and contradictions they might entail" (La ther, 1988, p. 576). The researcher is as much an active agent in the world as t he participant and acknowledging individual agency is important to restructuring the power relationship. The choices being made by the researcher are shaped and motivated by social location, from the choice of a research topic to decisions on how to present the material. Women as researchers bring their own experiences and history into the role of re searcher and the research process. The feminist researcher may be both insider a nd/or outsider to the environment and topic they are exploring. As insider, they have a stronger understanding of the dynamics and play of social relationships that inform the situation under investigation. The issue of inequality may be ov ercome through the affiliation of the researcher with the context, where partici pants may feel more comfortable in sharing information with someone who is withi n the situation (Matsumoto, 1996, p. 165). By contrast, the feminist researcher who lives outside the situation being examined may also be able to change the im balance of the power relations with the participants. Having to explain personal experiences and feelings with an outsider allows women the space to critically assess their own lived realities. It reinforces their location as author and exp ert to the situation. It also potentially gives women the opportunity to safely criticize their community, organization or situation without fear of discovery. Striving for balance and equality between researcher and participant entails neg otiating the often blurry insider/outsider relationship between the two parties. The location of the researcher also plays a significant role in the research pro cess through the dynamics of the interactions between researcher and participant . As women, both researcher and participant share a common location in the socia l world on the basis of their gender and can communicate on the basis of this si milarity. However, the location of the researcher as different can also have con sequences on the research process. Bringing feminist concerns into research enta ils recognizing the differences between women. Gender similarities may not trans cend all social locations. For some participants, factors other than gender may play a more prominent role in their experiences. Issues surrounding the race, cl ass or orientation of the interviewer to the participant are important to addres s in feminist research. As Rosalind Edwards notes, race can be a barrier for wom en seeking to do research "outside" of their own race, where finding participant s willing to take part in the research can be difficult (Edwards, 1990, p. 483). Questions about the motivations for the researcher to study women of other race s, cultures, ages, abilities and classes need to be addressed as part of the res earch process. Addressing inequality in the research relationship is more than simply acknowled ging different social locations. It is also taking an active role in negotiating

across these differences with the participants. Difference in social location i s not an insurmountable barrier to the research process, but difference must be recognized and addressed as part of the process. How this negotiation can occur is not defined by feminist research and no perfect solutions are given. Instead, feminist research involves context driven choices, the recognition that the cho ices of the feminist researcher are guided by feminist principles and how these principles are negotiated are unique to each research project. On a final note, changing the problematic power relationship s in research means addressing inequalities within the research team. The research process is infor med by the relations of power among the team players, where traditionally women have been exploited as research labourers without being credited for their work involvement. As feminist researchers, it is important for women to question the nature and structure of their own research team, and look at the differences in power relations within the group. Second, research for the sake of research is insufficient. As Maria Mies states, "the change of the status quo becomes the starting point for a scientific quest " (Mies, 1983, p. 135) . Research must serve the interests of women instead of b eing a tool to support the dominant masculine world view. Feminist research must not be abstract and removed from the subject of investigation but instead must have a commitment to working towards societal change. In the form of recommendat ions for policy or with the researcher being part of a collective involved in po litical activity, the research can not simply seek to present data and informati on. "Feminist research is, thus, not research about women but research for women to be used in transforming their sexist society" (Cook and Fonow, 1986, p. 13). How this is played out in the research process is again the result of choices b eing made by the researcher. Having the research question come from a women s coll ective or organization is one such way into staying grounded within the women s mo vement. The commitment to feminism as the underlying motivation to feminist rese arch means that research and action can not be separated. In part, a commitment to societal change involves a commitment to the participan ts of the research. Feminist research can be thought about in terms of conscious ness raising for the participants. Being involved as active members of the resea rch process give women the space to question and critically assess their experie nces. It also permits the recognition of the connections and links between event s in their lives as well as the connections to the social world (Kasper, 1994, p . 273). Identifying the connections between individual experience and social rel ations can facilitate personal analysis and transformation. Empowerment arises w ith education and knowledge about issues, and the affirmation that one s individua l experiences are part of a larger social structure. By choosing to conduct info rmal interviews with young women during dinner, Michelle Fine and Pat Macpherson illustrate how these women create meaning and engage in a process of self analy sis as they articulate their own experiences with feminism. "Our talks became an opportunity to "try on" ways of being women, struggling through power, gender, culture, and class" (Fine and Macpherson, 1992, p. 201). Finally, it is not sufficient to simply add women to the research equation. Femi nist research is not simply having women engaged as researchers. Nor is it about studying gender as a category or including women as a variable in research. Fem inist research is about taking women s location and standpoint in the world as the basis for research, where "research will proceed from a perspective that values women s experiences, ideas and needs rather than assuming we should be more like men" (Weston, 1988, p. 148). The multiple and often contradictory perspectives o f women act as the orientation and starting point for grounding the research pro cess. This means women s experiences and standpoint must be grounded in the larger social and political context of culture. Knowledge of women s lives have been absent or constructed from the perspective of

men. What is valued as areas to study, where knowledge arrives from, are areas that are of interest to men. Specifically, public places or man s social worlds ar e what is investigated in both qualitative and quantitative social science resea rch. Women s experiences in public places are made invisible or are spoken about f rom the view of men - what they think are the important questions to ask about t he public world. "The overt ideological goal of feminist research in the human s ciences is to correct both the invisibility and distortion of female experience" (Lather, 1988, p. 571). Feminist research takes women s situations, concerns, exp eriences and perspectives as the basis for research. It embodies women s experienc es in the social world from their own interpretation and using their language. Issues that are important to women become the starting point for doing research. Research has meaning in the world, and feminist research must attend to the mea ning women give to their experiences, what they identify as being topics that co ncern them. Women s societal identification with the private sphere has meant that issues of importance to women s lives in the private realm (marital rape, the exp erience of being a mother, violence, incest) have been ignored or not defined as issues of importance to research. What is viewed as important questions to ask and what social phenomenon get defined as problem areas for exploration have bee n defined by male researchers. Women s lives, experiences, ideas and needs have be en absent from social science research because we live in a world which values m ale knowledge and perspective and defines it as being objective truth. "A male v iew of the social world has become the view" (Maguire, 1987, p. 82). The questio ns women have about the world and areas they experience as problematic are issue s that must be addressed by feminist research. Feminist researchers must attend to language when trying to accurately represent women s perspectives and realities . Taking women s standpoint as the grounding for research means attending to how w omen construct and articulate their experiences in their own words: "the essenti al meaning of women s meanings can be grasped only by listening to the women thems elves" (Kasper, 1994, p. 266). This is problematic for feminist researchers. The writing of social reality is grounded in a language that reflects male power, m ale perspective and male control of the definitions of the world. Language does not equally value women and men and "language, to some extent, shapes or constru cts our notions of reality rather than labelling that reality in any transparent and straightforward way" (Ehrlich, 1995, p. 45). As Marjorie DeVault suggests, women use a language not their own to articulate their reality. She uses the ter m "translate" to illustrate the process women experience when trying to use lang uage to convey their perspectives (DeVault, 1990, p. 96). Listening to how women use language to translate and convey their experiences as women is importance t o feminist research. Since women are the experts and authorities to the situatio n, the way they create and give meaning to their experience becomes of central. Language shapes the words, concepts and stereotypes of society, and in turn also shapes actions, behaviours and expectations. In addition, the sexism in everyday language is also contained in the research p rocess. As feminist researchers, it is important to recognize how language is us ed to construct and recreate the dynamics of a research situation. Taking the pe rspective of women as the starting point for feminist research means using the l anguage and meanings given by the participant within the research. It is not suf ficient for the researcher to reinterpret and depict the research subject by usi ng language from outside the context. Listening to women and the meaning they gi ve to their experiences and using their meanings within the research is central to feminist research. Listening includes hearing how women reflect upon their ex periences, the feelings and meanings that are conveyed through their use of lang uage (Anderson et al, 1987, p. 111). Attending to the use of language within the research process also recognizes the way language determines and influences the research process. Language informs t he sociological categories that constitute social science research. Our categori es and codes determining what is valued as research have been shaped by male pre

rogative. Feminist research that acts from the standpoint of women opens up the possibilities of new topics for research that go beyond standard social science labels and categories. Language also enters the research process where it frames the questions being used as the starting point. Feminist researchers must atten d to how research questions are being organized and the implications suggested b y the choice of words (Anderson et al., 1987, p. 114). I have used three principle categories to outline the defining features of femin ist theory. Different authors construct these issues in feminist research in dif ferent ways. Judith Cook and Mary Margaret Fonow identify 5 basic epistemologica l principles in feminist methodology (Cook and Fonow, 1986, p. 5). These include the taking of women and gender as the focus of analysis; the importance of cons ciousness raising (feminist researcher inhabits a double world of women/research er and brings feminist knowledge into process); the rejection of subject and obj ect (between researcher and participant - means valuing the knowledge held by th e participant as being expert knowledge; how research valued as objective is sti ll biased); a concern with ethics (ie use of language, use of research results); and an intention to empower women and change power relations and inequality (ne w knowledge is generated when one challenges the inequalities in society - valid ates a new perspective and definition of events). As is apparent, these five pri nciples have been addressed in different ways within the body of this essay. Fem inist may not agree how to shape or define feminist research, but there is a hig h degree of concurrence over the epistemological grounding to the research proce ss. Some Limits with Feminist Research "I think it is important to recognize, acknowledge, and accept the imperfections and the incompleteness of feminist research goals" (Wolf, 1996, p. 36). In re-framing the qualitative/quantitative debate to examine the debate between traditional social science and feminist research, I have intentionally chosen to focus on the common features of feminist research. This is not to suggest that feminist research is the ultimate way out of the qualitative/quantitative debate . Within feminist writings on research is much discussion and division over the value of quantitative research for feminist theorizing. One problem I initially confronted with early feminist writings on social scienc e research was that some authors suggested that quantitative research was inappr opriate for feminist research. The central claim was that the attention to numbe rs and so called "hard" data was essentially masculine. These arguments suggest that qualitative research, with its focus on meaning, definitions and experience s, was somehow more feminine and better for feminist research due to its emotion al underpinning. Yet, this simply reinforces traditional gender stereotypes. In some cases, the distrust of quantitative research has been the result of the use of statistics and numbers to devalue or trivialize the reality of women s expe riences in the world. For example, the documented number of incest, child and sp ousal abuse cases has been statistically small and critics have used these stati stics to argue that these were, therefore, not significant social issues. Statis tics do not acknowledge the patriarchal and sexist climate of social values that do not permit women and children to reveal these abuses. The problem is not wit h the quantitative research process, but with the sexist value and belief system that determines what is researched and how it is questioned. Sexist and elitist values that support the status quo are not inherent to quantitative research bu t are reflective of the larger social milieu. Feminist researchers have been usi ng quantitative research to provide statistical data that is generalizable about the experiences of women. This is viewed as being particularly useful in showin

g the patterns and influences of multiple factors in shaping attitudes in societ y (O Neill, p. 343, 1995). It would also be beneficial to "counter the pervasive a nd influential quantitative sexist research which has and continues to be genera ted in the social sciences" (Jayaratne, 1983, pp. 158-159). The valuing of experiential research over numerical based data by some feminists is also problematic, as it simply seemed to take sides within the qualitative/q uantitative debate yet again. The problem is not with qualitative and quantitati ve research itself, but the valuing of one form of research over another and how patriarchal values have informed both research processes. Ultimately, there are a wide range of methods available to feminist researchers. Instead of focusing on which type of research is better, it makes more sense to allow the context an d purpose of the research to guide the choice of research tools and techniques. There is no one method or strategy for feminist research. In fact, buying into t he qualitative/quantitative division ignores one of the highlights of feminist r esearch, namely, its ability to combine research methods to attain the widest an d most accurate representation of reality. By attending to the context of the si tuation as central, feminist researchers can chose methods that will best repres ent women s situations and experiences (Greaves et al., 1995, p. 334). The situati on should guide the methodological choices, instead of having a trust in the met hod as appropriate for every context and situation. Recognising the impact of decisions and choices as part of the feminist research process is highly significant when trying to define the nature of feminist rese arch. Marianne Weston sees all research as existing on a fluid scale between tra ditional research and ideal feminist research. She argues that one can evaluate to what degree a research project is feminist by looking at the choices being ma de by the researcher. In her eyes, the ideal feminist research process would hav e the subjects as authorities and owners of the research, involved in determinin g the choice of methods and the conducting, interpreting and writing of the data with the participation of the researcher (Weston, 1988, pp. 146-148). Outlining the principles for feminist research as part of a continuum recognizes that the researcher has an active role in informing the nature, structure and shape of t he research process. But for Weston, most research that studies women is not fem inist. While I agree that many research projects do not utilize feminism as the grounding principle, this argument ignores the reality of feminist research as a negotiated process. While feminist researchers can aim and strive for the ideal feminist research process, there often exists a large gap between the reality a nd ideal goals of doing feminist research. This is an uncomfortable zone of disc ussion for many feminist authors. While the desire may be to promote equality in the research process through the validation of the women s experiences and enact social change and transformation, many barriers confront feminist researchers fr om achieving these aims. The process of doing research involves a long series of choices and decisions. While feminist beliefs and concerns will help guide and direct the decision making process, outside forces also play a key role in the r esearch process. Diana Ralph constructed a power pyramid that illustrates how po wer informs the decision making process, where the feminist researcher is on the bottom of the structure and has more difficulty in controlling the choices bein g made (Ralph, 1988, p. 140). The culture or society in which one conducts resea rch, the external funding agencies, the organizations or individuals who have an investment in the outcome of the research process, publishers, and even the res earch team all significantly impact on the decisions being made pertaining to th e research process. While the expressed goals of feminist research are to empower women, take women s standpoint as the perspective and restructure power imbalances in the research r elationship, attaining these goals can be frustrated by these external forces. D efining participants as the owners of knowledge may be blocked or resisted by ga tekeepers, such as journal or conference regulations, who demand common standard s surrounding authorship. Bringing the research back to the participants in orde

r to have the material critiqued and validated can increase costs for the projec t or may not be seen as necessary or worthwhile to the research funding agency ( Wolf, 1996, p. 33). Recognizing the degree of control and power the researcher h as over the research process is an issue for feminist researchers to address. As Joyce Pettigrew acknowledges, in fieldwork observation, the societal expectat ions based on gender play a significant role in the research process. As a femin ist researcher, her needs as a researcher to have free access to participants ca me into conflict with the cultural expectations for women to be supervised or re main in the home (Pettigrew, 1981, p. 68). Gunseli Berik similarly addresses how one negotiates choices as a feminist researcher. In her project, she intentiona lly chose to accept a subordinate social role as a woman that contradicted her f eminist beliefs. She also chose to gather data that would reflect women s experien ces in rural Turkey instead of promoting and producing social change (Berik, 199 6, p. 57). Her justifications for such decisions illustrate how practical issues , such as living within a culture and the demands of research on an individual r esearcher, influence the outcome of a feminist project. As these two illustratio ns suggest, feminist researchers are consciously and intentionally negotiating t he structure and form of feminist research while within the process. Real life circumstances impact on the degree to which the research is feminist a nd suggest that striving to achieve all ideal goals of feminist research is more problematic than is discussed. Negotiating the chasm that exists between the re ality and the ideals of feminist research can be of personal concern to women as researchers. While choices and decisions are made throughout all social science research projects, feminist researchers are negotiating choices that are tied i nto their own personal belief systems as feminists (Wolf, 1996, p. 2). Having to conform to societal expectations based on gender that are contradictory to one s own identity can be difficult for feminist researchers. Using one s identity as a woman as a way of accessing information may be a strategy available to the femin ist researcher, but a strategy that may undermine or come into conflict with one s feminist beliefs. Conclusions "The challenge is to continue to search for new and better topics, methodologies and strategies which will liberate women and, perhaps more than that, to challe nge us to be feminists first in our research efforts" (Weston, 1988, p. 149). So what then, constitutes feminist research? Feminist research is, by definition , research that utilizes feminist concerns and beliefs to ground the research pr ocess. Feminism takes women as its starting point, seeking to explore and uncove r patriarchal social dynamics and relationships from the perspective of women. F eminism is also a commitment to social change, arising from the actions of women to refuse the patriarchal social structure as it stands in favour of a more ega litarian society. Feminism also addresses the power imbalances between women and men and between women as active agents in the world. Feminist research seeks to include feminism within the process, to focus on the meaning women give to thei r world while recognizing that research as a process is contained within the sam e patriarchal relations. Feminist research is research that uses feminist princi ples throughout all stages of research, from choice of topic to presentation of data. These feminist principles also inform and act as the framework guiding the decisions being made by the researcher. This is not to suggest that feminist researchers believe that feminist research is one unified research methodology. There are many varying and diverse interpre tations of what feminist research is and should be. The only agreement seems to be to have no agreement - to revel in the diversity and recognize that these dif

ferences facilitate and permit different knowledges to be put forth. To seek one feminist research method is invalid, and simply reinforces patriarchal beliefs in totalizing theory, that there exists one truth, one knowledge in the world to be objectively discovered. Feminist research is about multiple, subjective and partial truths. Black feminist writers such as bell hooks and Patricia Hill Coll ins have strongly argued against the biases that exist in white academic feminis t writing, such as class exclusion, heterosexism, racism and ethnocentrism. Femi nist research can not claim to speak for all women, but can provide new knowledg e grounded in the realities of women s experiences and actively enact structural c hanges in the social world. Gyrgy Lukcs Gyrgy Lukcs was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher and literary critic. He is a found er of the tradition of Western Marxism. He contributed the ideas of reification and class consciousness to Marxist philosophy and theory, and his literary criti cism was influential in thinking about realism and about the novel as a literary genre. He served briefly as Hungary's Minister of Culture as part of the govern ment of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic. Written between 1919 and 1922 and first published in 1923, History and Class Con sciousness initiated the current of thought that came to be known as Western Mar xism. Lukcs's work elaborates and expands upon Marxist theories such as ideology, false consciousness, reification and class consciousness. In the first chapter, "What is Orthodox Marxism?", Lukcs defined orthodoxy as the fidelity to the "Marxist method", and not to the "dogmas": He criticised revisionist attempts by calling to the return to this Marxist meth od, which is fundamentally dialectical materialism. Lukcs conceives "revisionism" as inherent to the Marxist theory, insofar as dialectical materialism is, accor ding to him, the product of class struggle. In line with Marx's thought, he thus criticised the individualist bourgeois phil osophy of the subject, which founds itself on the voluntary and conscious subjec t. Against this ideology, he asserts the primacy of social relations. Existence -- and thus the world -- is the product of human activity; but this can be seen only if the primacy of social process on individual consciousness, which is but the effect of ideological mystification, is accepted. This doesn't entail that L ukcs restrain human liberty on behalf of some kind of sociological determinism: t o the contrary, this production of existence is the possibility of praxis. Henceforth, the problem consists in the relationship between theory and practice .The dialectical relation between subject and object gives the basis for Lukcs's critique of Kant's epistemology, according to which the subject is the exterior, universal and contemplating subject, separated from the object. Lukcs presents the category of reification whereby, due to the commodity nature o f capitalist society, social relations become objectified, precluding the abilit y for a spontaneous emergence of class consciousness. It is in this context that the need for a party in the Leninist sense emerges, the subjective aspect of th e re-invigorated Marxian dialectic. In his later career, Lukcs repudiated the ideas of History and Class Consciousnes s, in particular the belief in the proletariat as a subject-object of history" b ut he wrote a defence of them as late as 1925 or 1926. This unfinished manuscrip t, which he called Tailism and the Dialectic, was only published in Hungarian in 1996 and English in 2000 under the title A Defence of History and Class Conscio usness. It is perhaps the most important "unknown" Marxist text of the twentieth

century. The writings collected in this volume encompass Lukacs' years of apprenticeship in Marxism. They include the most important documents of this period (1918-1930) , in order to emphasize to their experimental nature and not to suggest that the y have any topical importance to current controversies about the true nature of Marxism.