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Epistemic authority and the gender lens

By Lydia Lewis

Abstract

Researching 'hidden' forms of social inequality such as gender often poses particular challenges. Not least of these is how to uncover such dimensions of social life whilst preserving the perspectives of research participants, who may not consider such matters relevant to their lives, particularly if other forms of identity or oppression are more prominent for them. Here, I reflect on these issues in the context of researching user involvement in mental health services from a feminist perspective. I show how `uncovering' gender and other forms of social inequality in the field was aided through adopting a wide analytical lens focusing on power, along with reflexivity and openness in discussing my own political analysis and commitments in relation to the study area with the researched. I also describe how I attempted to resolve the epistemological-ethical issues involved through conceptualising these in terms of `situatedness' and gender salience and adopting a feminist standpoint which emphasised what researchers can, and indeed should, bring to the research enterprise. Related issues of power and empowerment in the research process are discussed. \u

Topics: HQ, HM
Publisher: Blackwell
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:165

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