Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Seduction and Enlightenment in Feminist Action Research (1)

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Seduction and Enlightenment in Feminist Action Research (1)

Article excerpt

Throughout the research discussed in this paper, I expected the core issues and constraints experienced by the participants to emerge as I attempted to foster a collaborative environment and relationship. I believed that using feminist action research could widen feminism's theoretical lens thus enabling the identification of organizational issues and ideologies towards service delivery, meanwhile indicating routes toward lasting social change. Though it enabled a greater understanding of the research participants' daily issues and allowed me as the researcher to consistently check my assumptions and biases, found that power imbalances were often enforced and that the research site often inhibited a truly collaborative research environment.

A travers la recherche dont je discute dans cet article, je m'attendais a ce que se manifestent les questions fondamentales et contraintes dont ont eu l'experience les participantes alors que je tentais de developper un rapport ainsi qu'un environnement de collaboration. Je pensais que l'emploi de la methodologie de recherche feminisle participative elargirait l'objectif thearique du feminisme permettant ainsi l'identification de questions et ideologies d'ordre organisationnel taut en indiquant les chemins menant une transformation sociale durable. Ouoique cette approche ait rendu possible une meilleure comprehension des questions quotidiennes affectant les participantes de la recherche, ainsi qu'une remise en question continuelle de mes suppositions et biais, j'ai trouve que les desequilibres de pouvoir se trouvaient souvent renforcer et que le site de la recherche empechait souvent un environnement de recherche veritablement collaborateur.

Literature on participatory action research suggests that feminist research and feminist action research are representative of collaboration, negotiation, participation, emancipatory change and social action. As a first-time feminist researcher, I was committed to working with a group of low income young women, in the hope that, through my research, some positive change would be achieved. I also questioned the rhetoric of the women's organization with which I was working, the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association), that claimed to empower and to foster self-reliance in all women. Given my research interests, I was convinced that Feminist Action Research (FAR) was suitable, would enable the construction of a theoretically guided and empirically rich critique, and would lead towards a program for social action. I was seduced by the theoretical and methodological promises of feminist action research, and embraced them as I embarked on my research.

After completing my case study, my work had no significant social or political effects, despite the promises of collaboration, negotiation and emancipatory change that I read in the FAR literature. The organizational setting and the power relations within the organization and the research setting made the application of feminist action research more difficult than I originally anticipated. On the other hand, reflexive work led to a sharp appreciation of the position of power from which I conducted the research, and of the participants' view of me. As a relatively privileged researcher who controlled the production of knowledge in that place and time, I may have unwittingly reproduced what I intended to undermine. This, coupled with FAR's promise of social emancipation in an unequal society and the unrealistic expectations feminist researchers impose on one another, produces a methodological and ideological challenge that plagues researchers striving for responsible and responsive research methods. Nonetheless , it is essential to confront reflexively these issues and to make a commitment to an emergent research design (Tom, 1996). Despite these contentious issues, feminist action researchers have an important role to play in the evolution of responsive and collaborative research approaches. …

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