A Monster Lurking in the Shadows? One Researcher’s Crisis of Representing Class and Gender
Purpose To consider how knowledge about social class is produced in research and how it can become obscured from view through certain empathic practices of representation. Methodology/approach A number of data extracts, generated through participant observation and focus group interviews, are reflexively (re)considered in the chapter. These are drawn from an ethnographic study, previously undertaken by the author with a class of 25 young women in one private, selective girls’ school in the United Kingdom. Findings Social class was found to be silenced in the accounts which resulted from the research. This relative neglect is considered to have resulted from the primacy given to gender in a feminist project; to an over-emphasised sense of empathy and due to the desire to build and maintain respect and rapport. Strategies of empathic identification and representation should not be evaded altogether, but they need to be carefully considered (how and why are they used and to what effect?) and not taken up too readily, so that researchers don’t inadvertently re-inscribe the inequalities they are seeking to eliminate. Originality/value The chapter argues that greater attention needs to be paid to the class-making practices which researchers and participants engage in during and after fieldwork. Social class is brought to the foreground in the analyses presented.
ESRC Small Grant RES-000-22-2944 Economic and Social Research Council
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Alexandra Allan , (2016), A Monster Lurking in the Shadows? One Researcher’s Crisis of Representing Class and Gender, in Michael R. M. Ward (ed.) Gender Identity and Research Relationships (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Volume 14) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.65 - 83
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