Post 2 of #GPC@25: Mothers’ blogs: researcher’s analysis as valid use or abuse? by Nadia von Benzon

GPC@25The second post of our GPC@25 blog series is written by Dr Nadia von Benzon from the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University. In this post, Nadia considers the rise in popularity of ‘Mummy blogs’, the increase in the use of blogs as research data, and the implications of both for doing feminist research.

To find out more about how the journal is marking it’s 25th year, you can read Editor Pamela Moss’s post here. Please also follow us on Twitter and Facebook and include the hashtag #GPC@25. If you’d like to contribute to the series, please contact us at gpcat25@gmail.com.
Blogs written by mothers, also referred to as Mommy blogs, take a considerable share of the blogging market. According to www.marketer.com there are 4.2 million mothers blogging worldwide, making up 15.9% of the total blogs available online. These blogs vary widely in purpose and content, with a growing popularity in ‘honest’ blogs in the UK such as Slummy Single Mummy and the Selfish Mother. For social scientists, the blogosphere presents a smorgasbord of data, ripe for the picking. It goes almost without saying that the development and by now extensive use of qualitative research methods with social media and online technology means that we can without a doubt effectively use these blogs as data as we interrogate the experience of motherhood. However, the question remains over whether we should.

The arguments against this practice relate to well-rehearsed discussion over the imbalance of power inherent in a researcher taking the words and ideas of someone without their explicit informed consent. In the case of blogging, the author will be aware that the content they publish is public, and in blogging there is no protection from the law against the use of their words and ideas by other parties (although images remain the property of the artist and may not be used for profit without the express permission of the creator). However, academics, and particularly those identifying as feminists, will typically not deem acting legally as sufficient to assure themselves they are doing the right thing. In utilising blog content as data, we are potentially using an author’s content for a purpose they did not foresee, and sometimes this may include exposing their ideas and perhaps critiquing them in front of a new, potentially wider, often international, audience. Moreover, the public accessibility and searchability of the internet, means that it may be nearly impossible for the researcher to protect the identity of the blogger whose content they are analysing.

On the other hand, the internet offers huge, and growing potential for researchers to access unheard or hard-to-reach voices. Cyberspace allows easy access to minority and disparate participants – in the case of my recent research, mothers whose children are ‘unschooled’ – who might otherwise be hard to find. It allows for research across time zones and international borders from the comfort of the researchers’ desk chair. Further, using blogs as research data allows the participants to communicate in their own voice. In using blogs the research has been produced for a purpose that suited the participant, in a manner that was not influenced by a researcher’s agenda or the authors’ perceptions of the researcher’s agenda. Whilst there are a host of reasons why blogs may not represent a truly authentic voice, whatever that might be, they at least do not include the researcher’s influence until they are sampled and analysed.

However, there is another, and perhaps more controversial, argument in support of the use of blogs in research which relates to the author’s rights to be recognised as a cogent agent in the research process. As scholars, we do not hesitate to cite the work of other authors who have run the peer-reviewing gauntlet to publish in academic journals or books. Similarly, we cite without questioning the ethics, the work of professional authors and journalists who themselves may have written for the Times or the Huffington Post, without the expectation of being analysed by an early career geography lecturer. Therefore, is declining to use blogs on the ground of author vulnerability, not in fact a paternalistic and highly hierarchical approach that deems these mothers’ published contributions to public knowledge less purposeful or less thought-through than other authors? Tentatively, I suggest that to avoid the free use of mothers’ blogs as valuable data sources is to deny these woman, often already marginalised as primary care givers, and as non-males, their agency as writers who have wittingly chosen to publish their ideas in a public forum.

Additional publications:

von Benzon, N. (2017), Unruly Children in Unbounded Spaces: School-based nature experiences for urban learning disabled young people in Greater Manchester, UK, Journal of Rural Studies, 51, 240-250:   http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0743016716301619
von Benzon, N. (2016), Confessions of an inadequate researcher: space and supervision in research with learning disabled children, Social and Cultural Geography, 1-20:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14649365.2016.1257148

 

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Post 1 of #GPC@25: Cities as catalysts of gendered social change? by Dr Alice Evans

GPC@25

Welcome to the first post in our new blog series called GPC@25; a special series of blogs that will be posted throughout 2018 to mark Gender, Place and Culture turning 25 and to celebrate the development and scholarship of feminist geography. We are delighted to open the series with a contribution by Dr Alice Evans from Kings College London. In this post, she offers insights into her ethnographic research in rural and urban Cambodia and Zambia and explores the way in which cities can catalyse gender equality and social change.

To find out more about how the journal is marking the occasion, you can read Editor Pamela Moss’s post here. Please also follow us on Twitter and Facebook and include the hashtag #GPC@25. If you’d like to contribute to the series, please contact us at gpcat25@gmail.com.

Support for gender equality is rising, globally. People increasingly champion girls’ education, women’s employment, and leadership. Scholars have suggested several explanations for this trend: (a) the growing availability of contraceptives; (b) domestic appliances; (c) cuts in men’s wages and the rising opportunity costs of women staying at home; and (d) seeing women in socially valued roles. These theories are plausible. But can they account for rural-urban differences?

Across Asia and Africa, urban residents are more likely to support gender equality in education, employment and leadership than their rural compatriots. This holds even when controlling for age, education, employment, income, and access to infrastructure. Likewise, in the 2016 US elections, city-dwellers were more likely to support Hillary Clinton (controlling for geographic region, education, income, age, race, and religious affiliation). Why is this?

gpc

To explore these possibilities, I undertook ethnographic research in rural and urban Cambodia and Zambia: interviewing migrant workers; farmers; fishermen; traders; students; teachers; office-workers; politicians; and government officials. My data suggests that cities can catalyse gender equality because they: (1) raise opportunity costs; enable (2) exposure to alternatives; (3) association; and (4) proximity to services.

First, cities often raise the opportunity costs of gender divisions of labour: higher living costs; more economic opportunities for women (in services and manufacturing); and the contemporary precarity of male employment. This shift in perceived interests has triggered rising support for female employment – in both Cambodia and Zambia.

Second, cities enable exposure to alternatives. People living in interconnected, heterogeneous, densely populated areas are more likely to see women in socially valued, masculine domains. Seeing women mechanics, breadwinners and leaders increases people’s confidence in the possibility of social change: inspiring others; catalysing further experimentation; generating a positive feedback loop.

Third, cities enable association with diversity. People may shift their norm perceptions (beliefs about what others think and do) by chatting and sharing ideas in cafes, markets, and offices: seeing others condemn inequalities, demonstrate zero tolerance of abuse, and champion women leaders.

Nsenga (41, circular migrant, fish wholesaler): In the village, there are no educated women for girls to look up to, so they don’t aspire for employment.

Annie (45, widow, circular migrant, fish wholesaler): But here in town, there are nurses, teachers, doctors. Girls think, ‘if I am educated then I can be a doctor’. Here in town children see everyone going to school but in the village, they just see two people…

————-

Nsenga: Here in town a woman may stop school to give birth, then she will be desperate to return to school and finish. But in the village, they just give birth and it’s all over. It’s because of early marriage. There’s nothing else they see and aspire for [translated from Bemba].

————-

Alice: What do you think of Phnom Penh? [speaking to trainee flight attendants]

Son: I meet new people, we share our experiences. But in rural areas, we just stuck with the old ideas. The idea is stuck because we don’t go out. [Here in the city] I feel wonderful. Seeing women dress up beautiful, earn their own living.

Bopha: I saw a woman driving a tuk tuk.

Son: Now it’s common.

First author: How did you feel, seeing her?

Bopha: I feel strange. Why don’t she find other job, like seller or company? I’ve never seen that before.

Son: It really impressed me, because what a man can do a woman can do…

Chanda: It shows men I can do it.

This process is much slower in rural Cambodia and Zambia. Rural remoteness and homogeneity curb exposure to alternatives, dampening confidence in the possibility of social change, deterring deviation.

Fourth, urban women are closer to health and police services – so potentially more able to control their fertility and secure external support against gender-based violence. But if these service-providers are unhelpful, then proximity is clearly no safeguard.

Urban experiences are also mediated by macro-economic context, the sectoral composition of job growth, and occupational status. While Zambian market traders learn from a bustling diversity of assertive women, home-based workers are more socially isolated. There are also limits to Cambodian factory work: long hours, berated, harassed, and closely controlled. Breaks are brief: gulp a sugary drink, guzzle a plate of rice and fatty meat, compare bundles completed, then hasten back for the bell.

While cities are no panacea, they are accelerating progress towards gender equality.

Intrigued?

Read more!

Evans, A. (forthcoming) ‘Cities as catalysts of gendered social change: reflections from Zambia’, the Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

Evans, A. and Swiss, L. (2017) ‘Cities, gender equality, and social change in Africa and Asia’. Working paper.

Dr. Alice Evans, Lecturer in the Social Science of International Development, King’s College, London

Twitter: @_alice_evans

This blog post was first published on ‘From Poverty to Power

Celebrating 25 years of Gender, Place and Culture: a note on our celebrations and the ’25 blogs’ series, by Editor Pamela Moss

GPC@25It is wonderful that Gender, Place and Culture is celebrating 25 years of publication. As part of this celebration, throughout the year, Gender, Place and Culture will be a sponsor for lectures and sessions at multiple conferences. There will be a series of reviews of some of the influential books within the discipline that give some insight into how feminist geographies came to be. We will also publish a number of journal articles that show how they have transformed the wider discipline of geography, what issues are important to feminist geographies now, and what the future may hold. If this is something that appeals to you, you can find out more about it here.

The introduction of this website for Gender, Place and Culture has also opened up a new venue for publishing. In addition to announcements and calls associated with the journal, the blog has been an opportunity to write about the things feminist geographers immerse themselves in every day – what is done well and what can be done better!

In celebration of turning 25 and in honouring our commitment to showcasing the contributions of feminist geographers in the field, Anna Tarrant and Lisa Dam have commissioned a new set of blogs to be published throughout the year that speak to the interests of feminist geographers – whether it be a reflection on the ethics of research practice, on a moment in the history of the discipline, or on how to survive the challenging times we live in. We invite you to keep up with us as we post a new blog (hopefully more!) roughly every month.

We know that the field is flourishing. And it has been mostly about you – your research, your scholarship, your reviews, your commitment, your feminism, and your interest in feminist geographies! If you have an idea that you want to blog about this year in order to contribute to our celebrations – let Anna and Lisa know at gpcat25@gmail.com.

This blog is yours!

We invite you to submit your doctoral dissertations!

Committed to advancing original scholarship in the critical arenas of feminist geography and feminist interdisciplinary work, Gender, Place and Culture is seeking to add doctoral dissertation précis to its collection of research. As part of the feminist geography community, we recognize the importance of celebrating academic work written by hard-working doctoral students. By honoring these accomplishments, the journal can show how students engaging with feminist geography are building the future of the discipline.

Submission Details

Publication of doctoral dissertation précis will take place in each issue of Gender, Place and Culture. Submissions will be considered on a competitive basis, and each précis will undergo a vetting process by an Editor. Successful submissions will join the queue for publication.

We invite you to submit original pieces of writing of about 1500 words (including references) that summarize your recently-defended dissertation. Rather than publishing the original abstracts submitted with the dissertation, please compose a different piece summarizing the paper in a way that highlights the contributions of feminist geography and submit the accompanying abstract alongside the newy-written précis, including a set of five to seven key words. Please refer to our guidance notesfor further information on dissertation précis. For details of other paper types published in the journal please see the Instructions for Authors.

The Editors invite authors to submit précis of their dissertations through ScholarOne, and are now accepting dissertations defended in 2016 and 2017.

On behalf of the Editors of Gender, Place and Culture
Pamela Moss, Managing Editor

Have you seen our latest issues in volume 24? Links to articles and book reviews in issues 8 and 9 are available now

Issue 8

Louise Wattis
Jennifer Greenburg
Janet Lee
Angela Meah
Eser Selen & Mary Lou O’Neil

Volume 24, Issue 7 is now available online

This issue features eight fascinating articles covering diverse topics addressing homelessness, caste names, and water provisioning to name a few. We also have articles spanning the globe from Scotland to Vietnam and more. Happy reading!

A continuing agenda for gender: the role of the IGU Commission on gender and geography
Shirlena Huang, Janice Monk, Joos Droogleever Fortuijn, Maria Dolors Garcia-Ramon & Janet Henshall Momsen

Researching boxing bodies in Scotland: Using apprenticeship to study the embodied construction of gender in hyper masculine space
Hanna Carlsson

Citation matters: mobilizing the politics of citation toward a practice of ‘conscientious engagement’
Carrie Mott & Daniel Cockayne

Occupational genders and gendered occupations: the case of water provisioning in Maputo, Mozambique
Cecilia Alda-Vidal , Maria Rusca , Margreet Zwarteveen , Klaas Schwartz & Nicky Pouw

Homelessness, nature, and health: toward a feminist political ecology of masculinities
Jeff Rose & Corey Johnson

What is in a name? How caste names affect the production of situated knowledge
Kamna Patel

Cocoons as a space of their own: a case of Emirati women learners
Gergana Alzeer

A zone of exception: gendered violences of family ‘Happiness’ in Vietnam
Helle Rydstrøm

Annual Award for New and Emerging Scholars

Application closing date: 26 January 2018

The editorial team of Gender, Place and Culture is pleased to announce an annual award valued at a maximum of US$1,500 for new and emerging scholars. The award is targeted at emerging researchers in feminist geographies who are trying to establish research careers and create research momentum. The purpose is to support the research programme of promising feminist geographers and to give an impetus to their careers. The applicant should be involved in independent research and not be merely part of a larger group’s research project. Priority for this award will be given to current graduate students or faculty members within three years of receiving their PhD who are situated in partially or poorly funded positions, who work in departments where little or no money is available for conference participation and who have no recourse to grants from funding agencies such as the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK and the National Science Foundation in the USA or equivalent (if you currently hold one of these grants or have just completed one you will not be considered eligible for this award).

This award is intended to be used for attendance at an international conference of your choice, at which you will present a paper on a topic relating to feminist geography. The successful applicant is expected to use the award within one year of its receipt.

Applicants are asked to submit the following:

  • an abstract of the conference paper (250-300 words) and conference information including, if possible, confirmation of acceptance of your paper;
  • an academic CV;
  • a paragraph outlining how your research contributes to feminist geography;
  • a proposed budget (for accommodation, travel, conference fees, per diem, etc.);
  • and a cover letter including your contact details (mailing address, email, and telephone number).

Please send your applications to the Managing Editor, Pamela Moss (pamelam@uvic.ca), by 26 January 2018. A decision on the award will be made within 4 to 6 weeks of this deadline. Within one month of attending the conference the successful applicant is expected to submit receipts as well as a one page report.

Gender, Place and Culture is Seeking One New Editor

Gender, Place and Culture, published by Routledge, is a well-established geography journal with an international circulation in its field. The current Managing Editor is Pamela Moss (Canada) and Editors are Katherine Brickell (UK), Kanchana Ruwanpura (UK) and Margaret Walton-Roberts (Canada). In 2017 the journal began publishing 12 issues per year. It accepts manuscript submissions via ScholarOne (previously known as Manuscript Central). The journal Impact Factor of 1.605 and its rankings in 2016 SSCI Journal Citation Reports are 34/79 (Geography) and 7/41 (Women’s Studies). The 2016 5-year Impact Factor is now 1.856. Please visit www.tandfonline.com/cgpc for additional information about the Journal.

We are looking for ONE new editor to join the editorial team to extend the success and growth of the journal. The editor would start by ‘shadowing’ a current Editor in January of 2018 to learn the system, and sometime in the second quarter of 2018 would be expected to start editing papers independently and build up a full workload.

The tasks to be undertaken will include but are not be limited to:

  • Day to day manuscript management including: soliciting, receiving and processing manuscripts;
  • responsibility for identifying strategies to enhance the quality and reputation of the journal;
  • working with the Managing Editor and the Editorial Board to develop the editorial strategy and direction of the Journal and to act as ambassador for the journal;
  • commissioning and promoting special sections.

There is some flexibility in both timeline and the length of the term served. Most Editors serve a three to five year term.

Candidates should have a broad knowledge of the field of feminist geography and of women’s and gender studies more generally; be open to a wide range of studies submitted by scholars from all world regions; have access to e-mail and internet on an ongoing basis; be tech-knowledgeable and tech-friendly; be prepared to manage a consistent workload over the term served; and have excellent editing skills. Our preference is for the new Editor to already have editorial experience as they will be expected to take on a number of papers fairly soon after joining the journal. Candidates will ideally be established in their personal academic career development. In common with the journal’s mission on diversity and representation we would strongly encourage applications from outside of the UK and North America.

Applications should consist of a letter detailing the candidate’s editorial experience, and their vision and ambitions for the journal, plus a CV. Nominations of suitable persons are also being solicited.

Closing date for applications is 24 November 2017. Further information about the activities and responsibilities of the editors can be obtained from Pamela Moss. Nominations and applications should be sent directly to Pamela Moss (pamelam@uvic.ca).

Volume 24, Issue 6 now available

This issue features 9 fascinating articles and 3 book reviews, which are all listed below with direct links. In case you missed the announcement, Gender, Place and Culture will be publishing doctoral dissertation précis in each issue. Submissions will be considered on a competitive basis. Each précis will undergo a vetting process by an Editor. Successful submissions will join the queue for publication. The Editors invite authors to submit précis of their dissertations through ScholarOne. Dissertations defended in 2016 and 2017 are now being accepted. More information can be found here.

ARTICLES

Teresa Lloro-Bidart

Kathryn Gillespie & Victoria Lawson

New rapid response articles available now: Emergent and Divergent Spaces in the Women’s March: The Challenges of Intersectionality and Inclusion

Gender, Place & Culture, Volume 24, Issue 5, is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online <http://www.tandfonline.com>. This important issue is dedicated to articles concerned with the Women’s March, one of the largest coordinated protests in US and world history. Entitled ‘Emergent and Divergent Spaces in the Women’s March: The Challenges of Intersectionality and Inclusion’, the collection addresses some of the key issues arising through collective expressions of protest.

You may also like to read our linked blog post ‘Reflecting on the Women’s March on Washington’ by Frances Kunreuther here

Introduction

Emergent and divergent spaces in the Women’s March: the challenges of intersectionality and inclusion

Pamela Moss & Avril Maddrell

Pages: 613-620 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1351509
Rapid Response articles

On being groped and staying quiet. Or, what kind of place an airplane can be
Naomi Adiv
Pages: 621-627 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1342075

Intersectional feminism beyond U.S. flag hijab and pussy hats in Trump’s America
Banu Gökarıksel & Sara Smith

Pages: 628-644 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1343284

‘It definitely felt very white’: race, gender, and the performative politics of assembly at the Women’s March in Victoria, British Columbia
CindyAnn Rose-Redwood & Reuben Rose-Redwood
Pages: 645-654 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1335290

Token girl: reflections of an emerging feminist’s journey through music
Amanda Hooykaas
Pages: 655-660 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1328663

Generative spaces: intimacy, activism and teaching feminist geographies
Shannon Burke, Alexandra Carr, Helena Casson, Kate Coddington, Rachel Colls, Alice Jollans, Sarah Jordan, Katie Smith, Natasha Taylor & Heather Urquhart
Pages: 661-673 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1335293

Latent alliances: the Women’s March and agrarian feminism as opportunities of and for political ecology
Garrett Graddy-Lovelace
Pages: 674-695 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1342604

KNIT + RESIST: placing the Pussyhat Project in the context of craft activism
Shannon Black
Pages: 696-710 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1335292

(Re)producing feminine bodies: emergent spaces through contestation in the Women’s March on Washington

Sydney Boothroyd, Rachelle Bowen, Alicia Cattermole, Kenda Chang-Swanson, Hanna Daltrop, Sasha Dwyer, Anna Gunn, Brydon Kramer, Delaney M. McCartan, Jasmine Nagra, Shereen Samimi & Qwisun Yoon-Potkins
Pages: 711-721 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1339673

Resist, persist, desist: building solidarity from Grandma Ella through baby Angela to the Women’s March
Bisola Falola & Chelsi West Ohueri
Pages: 722-740 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1335291

Coming out of darkness and into activism
Petra Doan
Pages: 741-746 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2017.1328664

Book Reviews
Constructive feminism: women’s spaces and women’s rights in the American city
Jenny Lendrum
Pages: 747-748 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2016.1275105

An imperialist love story: desert romances in the war on terror
Andrea Miller

Pages: 748-750 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2016.1275106

This year’s model: fashion, media, and the making of glamour
Pilar Ortiz
Pages: 750-751 | DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2016.1275109