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Qualitative Methods, Audio Diaries, Narratives, Sleep, Women, Couples, Social Context

Evaluating an Empowering Research Strategy: Reflections on Action-Research with South Asian Women

Alison Bowes
Sociological Research Online 1 (1) 1

Keywords: Action-Research; Anti-Racism; Asian Women's Action Group (AWAG); Community Work; 'Crossroads' Project; Empowerment; Feminist Research; Glasgow
Abstract: Anti-racist sociology, feminist sociology and action-research share a concern with empowerment of 'the researched'. A review and critique of the concept of empowerment in anti racist, feminist and action research is used to argue for the use of Strauss's 'paradigm' for study of the negotiation of power in the research process. Power negotiations are discussed in relation to a reflexive case study of an action-research project which worked alongside South Asian women in Glasgow. The case focuses on the project set up, which was aimed at intrinsic empowerment, then on the community action which tried to respond to local concerns, and finally on the experiences of two researchers in the project. In conclusion, it is argued that empowerment, rather than an unquestioned, universally desirable goal, remains an issue for continuing debate.

'Evaluating an Empowering Research Strategy: Reflections on Action-Research with South Asian Women'

Alison Bowes
Sociological Research Online 1 (1) 1

Keywords: Action-Research; Anti-Racism; Asian Women's Action Group (AWAG); Community Work; 'Crossroads' Project; Empowerment; Feminist Research; Glasgow
Abstract: Anti-racist sociology, feminist sociology and action-research share a concern with empowerment of 'the researched'. A review and critique of the concept of empowerment in anti racist, feminist and action research is used to argue for the use of Strauss's 'paradigm' for study of the negotiation of power in the research process. Power negotiations are discussed in relation to a reflexive case study of an action- research project which worked alongside South Asian women in Glasgow. The case focuses on the project set up, which was aimed at intrinsic empowerment, then on the community action which tried to respond to local concerns, and finally on the experiences of two researchers in the project. In conclusion, it is argued that empowerment, rather than an unquestioned, universally desirable goal, remains an issue for continuing debate.

Violating an Occupational Sex-Stereotype: Israeli Women Earning Engineering Degrees

Jacobsen and Vanki
Sociological Research Online 1 (4) 3

Keywords: Engineering; Higher Education; Israeli Women; Simulation; System Dynamics
Abstract: The percentage of women engineering graduates in Israel has increased fourfold during the last two decades, but only a small percentage of Israeli women opt for these fields. We account for the current trend by a general theory of patterned deviance, viewing the recent increase of women's studying for engineering degrees as a case of nonconformity with a traditional norm. A simulation model of that theory reproduced 85.8% of the variance in the data on women engineering graduates between 1966 and 1987, indicating that the theory applies also in this case. The simulations show that it is becoming increasingly legitimate for women to study engineering and informal social control keeping women from enrolling in engineering has almost disappeared, but the internalized sex- stereotype still deters many women from taking such courses.

CAQDAS -Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software

Ann Lewins
Sociological Research Online 1 (4) caqdas

Keywords: Engineering; Higher Education; Israeli Women; Simulation; System Dynamics
Abstract: Research Resource: This project continues in its aims to create networks which reach a wide audience of researchers using qualitative data sources. The project is co-directed by Nigel Fielding, University of Surrey and Ray Lee, Royal Holloway,University of London; Ann Lewins is the project resource officer based at Surrey University. It sets out to disseminate information about computer assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS), makes available a number of CAQDAS resources, and creates platforms for the debate which concerns the use and development of CAQDAS. http://www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/caqdas/

SocInfo - CTI Centre for Sociology, Politics and Social Policy

CTI Centre for Sociology, Politics and Social Policy
Sociological Research Online 1 (4) ctisocinfo

Keywords: Engineering; Higher Education; Israeli Women; Simulation; System Dynamics
Abstract: Research Resource: SocInfo is the CTI Centre for Sociology, Politics and Social Policy based at the University of Stirling and is directed by Professor Duncan Timms and Millsom Henry. The main remit of this centre is to actively encourage academics to use the new technologies effectively in an overall attempt to improve the quality of teaching and learning. CTI Centres are funded under a joint programme of the Higher Education Funding Councils of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are 24 national Centres which are organised on a subject discipline basis. http://www.stir.ac.uk/socinfo/

Reflections on Interviewing Women MPs

Nirmal Puwar
Sociological Research Online 2 (1) 4

Keywords: Access; Elite Studies; Gender Studies; Interviewing; Power; Rapport; Women MPs
Abstract: This paper reflects on the recent experience of interviewing women MPs. The research process is analyzed in terms of the micro-politics of the relationship between the researcher and the researched. Relevant methodological debates from two areas of sociology which are rarely brought together have been incorporated. Elite Studies and Gender Studies. Both of these fields have discussed the politics of space within the process of interviewing. However, the research experience of interviewing female MPs does not neatly fit in with the descriptions of interviewing to be found in either of these fields. This paper will discuss how the experience meets, criss-crosses and contradicts research reflections that are to be found in both of the above fields. So at times my experience echoed Ann Oakley's description of interviewing women as a cosy, friendly and sisterly exchange of information (Oakley, 1982: p. 55). Whilst at other times I could relate to Stephen Ball's description of interviews with MPs as '...events of struggle, as a complex interplay of dominance/resistance and chaos/freedom.' (Ball, 1994: p. 113). Often the same interview shifted between these two types of scenarios. After a short introduction to the debates on space and power within Elite Studies and Gender Studies this paper will go on to detail some of the complexities of interviewing women MPs for a feminist project.

Theory Building in Qualitative Research and Computer Programs for the Management of Textual Data

Sociological Research Online 2 (2) 1

Keywords: Computer-Aided Qualitative Data Analysis; Grounded Theory; Methodology; Qualitative Methods; Theory Building
Abstract: This article refers to recent debates about the potential methodological costs and benefits of computer use in qualitative research and about the relationship between methodological approaches (eg. 'Grounded Theory') on the one hand and computer-aided methods of qualitative research on the other. It is argued that the connection between certain computer-aided strategies and methodological approaches is far more loose than is often assumed. Furthermore, the danger of methodological biases and distortion arising from the use of certain software packages is overemphasized in current discussions, as far as basic tasks of textual data management ('coding and retrieval') usually performed by this software are concerned. However, with the development of more advanced and complex coding and retrieval techniques, which are regarded by some authors as tools for 'theory building' in qualitative research, methodological confusion may arise if basic prerequisites of qualitative theory building are not taken into consideration. Therefore, certain aspects of qualitative theory building which are relevant for computer aided methods of textual data management are discussed in the paper.

The Use of Diaries in Sociological Research on Health Experience

M Heather Elliott
Sociological Research Online 2 (2) 7

Keywords: Diaries; Health Services Research; Need and Demand; Primary-Care; Qualitative Methods
Abstract: Diaries have been relatively neglected as a sociological research method. This paper highlights the value of diary research, drawing on the literature on auto/biographies and health service research as well as a qualitative study of need and demand for primary health care, which used diaries and linked in-depth interviews. In particular, data from the study are used to illustrate the role of the 'diary-interview' method in offering a means to 'observe' behaviour which is inaccessible to participant observation. Five key advantages of the diary-interview are discussed, namely the potential of the 'diary-interview' method to accommodate different response modes; the extent to which the method captured diarists' own priorities; the importance of the research process in illuminating the contexts within which helpseeking took place; the role of diaries as both a record of and reflection on the experience of illness and the value of the diary-interview method as a means of understanding what is 'taken for granted' in accounts of health and illness.

Part/Whole Morphology: Unifying Single Case and Comparative Methods

Thomas Scheff
Sociological Research Online 2 (3) 1

Keywords: Human Behaviour; Part/Whole Morphology; Quantitative Methods; Qualitative Methods
Abstract: In this article, I describe the morphological method as a new stage of inquiry, between the first stage, qualitative methods, and the third, quantitative methods. The proposed second stage involves microscopic examination of single instances, and, if more than one instance is available, comparisons with each other. This method is particularly useful for the objective determination of meaning, a crucial problem for the human sciences. Because the determination of meaning is complex, yet taken for granted, I describe its intricacy. The new method also can be used to generate micro-macro theories, perhaps the next stage in the development of the human sciences. To form a bridge between qualitative and quantitative methods, which are increasingly separated, part/whole morphology can lead to research which is valid, reliable, and cost-efficient. Qualitative methods involve exploration, the first step in inquiry. Quantitative methods involve verification, the last step. Although preliminary exploration is usually necessary and always helpful, exploration requires verification. The weakness of verification alone is that since experiments and other standardized formats (such as the scale and the standardized interview) are narrow and rigid, one needs to have considerable knowledge before an adequate testing procedure can be designed. Qualitative methods are like wide-angled lenses with little depth; quantitative methods are as narrow as using the wrong end of a telescope. Furthermore, since verification is costly and time-consuming, only hypotheses and theories should be tested which are not only plausible, but are likely to be general and important. The procedure outlined here is more labourious than most qualitative studies, but it is also more cost-efficient than those which automatically seek verification. The approach outlined here can be seen as the next step after what Giddens (1984) has called 'instantiation'. He asked for actual instances of the behaviour described by any theory. His call, in turn, can be seen as a reiteration of Max Weber's (1947) insistence that the task of sociology is to reduce concepts about society to 'understandable action, that is, without exception, to the actions of participating individuals (persons).

Organisation Man - Women and Organisational Culture

Grant Coates
Sociological Research Online 2 (3) 7

Keywords: Femininity; Gender; Management; Organisational Culture; Performance Appraisal; Sexuality; Women
Abstract: Four decades ago, Whyte (1956), described how a new human expression had become universally evident. This was the notion of the 'Organisation Man', an early corporate culture characterised by the middle ranks of managers in large organisations, who were subject to a 'social ethic'. Under the original conception gender was not an issue. However, in a contemporary view of human resource management (HRM) and corporate culture, it has become crucial to understanding both notions of competitive advantage, and the thesis and influence of commitment in the literature and the workplace. This article deals with some issues of women and the organisation man/corporate culture thesis. Unlike many studies (e.g. Fletcher et al, 1993), there is a need to make a distinction between women and men concerning their perceptions and roles. A need to clarify the changes that have taken place in relation to the corporate culture thesis. The analysis in this paper is based on initial research material. It deals with the above issues in relation to gender in contemporary society, asking as it does, if the notion of corporate culture has changed to one where both men and women are implicated in the project at a full, emotional level.

Accessing Large Corporations: Research Ethics and Gatekeeper-Relations in the Case of Researching a Japanese-Invested Factory

Sociological Research Online 2 (4) 9

Keywords: Industrial Sociology; Interviewing Techniques; Qualitative Methods; Sensitive Topics; Toyota Motor Corporation; Transplants
Abstract: Large Japanese corporations have usually been researched according to one out of five main approaches. This short paper presents and discusses some dilemmas which emerged from a small research project where the first approach, access through the 'front door' by direct contact with the corporation's high-level representatives, was combined with direct contact and interviews with regular employees. The dilemmas are presented and discussed in view of the discussion within sociological methodology regarding research on sensitive topics, conditional access and relationship with gatekeepers.

Sustainability and Modernity in the European Union: A Frame Theory Approach to Policy-Making

Calloni and Mikrakis Triandafyllidou and Fotiou
Sociological Research Online 3 (1) 2

Keywords: Environmental Policy; European Union; Frame Analysis; Qualitative Methods; Sustainable Development; Trans-European Networks
Abstract: Frame analysis has been often used by scholars studying New Social Movements to analyze their discourses and their ability to mobilise people. This paper refers to the application of 'frame analysis' to a different context, namely to discourses of both social movements and institutional actors in the context of public policy-making. More particularly, the study is concerned with the discourses of social actors who participate in the making of EU environmental policy. The advantages and limitations of frame analysis as a method for analysing discourse in an institutional context are discussed. Two case-studies are used to highlight the pros and cons of the method. First, the competing discourses of environmental organisations, business associations, and EU officials with regard to environmental sustainability and the Fifth Action Programme are examined. The second case study addresses the issue of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-Ts) and examines different types of framing of sustainable mobility developed by policy actors. Conclusions are drawn with regard to the contribution of frame theory in the analysis of policy-making processes.

Sociological Practice: The Politics of Identities and Futures

Irwin Deutscher
Sociological Research Online 3 (1) 3

Keywords: Environmental Policy; European Union; Frame Analysis; Qualitative Methods; Sustainable Development; Trans-European Networks
Abstract: Frame analysis has been often used by scholars studying New Social Movements to analyze their discourses and their ability to mobilise people. This paper refers to the application of 'frame analysis' to a different context, namely to discourses of both social movements and institutional actors in the context of public policy-making. More particularly, the study is concerned with the discourses of social actors who participate in the making of EU environmental policy. The advantages and limitations of frame analysis as a method for analysing discourse in an institutional context are discussed. Two case-studies are used to highlight the pros and cons of the method. First, the competing discourses of environmental organisations, business associations, and EU officials with regard to environmental sustainability and the Fifth Action Programme are examined. The second case study addresses the issue of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-Ts) and examines different types of framing of sustainable mobility developed by policy actors. Conclusions are drawn with regard to the contribution of frame theory in the analysis of policy-making processes.

The Industrial Organization of Sociology

Tony Tam
Sociological Research Online 3 (1) 4

Keywords: Environmental Policy; European Union; Frame Analysis; Qualitative Methods; Sustainable Development; Trans-European Networks
Abstract: Frame analysis has been often used by scholars studying New Social Movements to analyze their discourses and their ability to mobilise people. This paper refers to the application of 'frame analysis' to a different context, namely to discourses of both social movements and institutional actors in the context of public policy-making. More particularly, the study is concerned with the discourses of social actors who participate in the making of EU environmental policy. The advantages and limitations of frame analysis as a method for analysing discourse in an institutional context are discussed. Two case-studies are used to highlight the pros and cons of the method. First, the competing discourses of environmental organisations, business associations, and EU officials with regard to environmental sustainability and the Fifth Action Programme are examined. The second case study addresses the issue of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-Ts) and examines different types of framing of sustainable mobility developed by policy actors. Conclusions are drawn with regard to the contribution of frame theory in the analysis of policy-making processes.

Whose Future? Whose Sociology? a Response to Tam and Deutscher

Bogusia Temple
Sociological Research Online 3 (1) 5

Keywords: Environmental Policy; European Union; Frame Analysis; Qualitative Methods; Sustainable Development; Trans-European Networks
Abstract: Frame analysis has been often used by scholars studying New Social Movements to analyze their discourses and their ability to mobilise people. This paper refers to the application of 'frame analysis' to a different context, namely to discourses of both social movements and institutional actors in the context of public policy-making. More particularly, the study is concerned with the discourses of social actors who participate in the making of EU environmental policy. The advantages and limitations of frame analysis as a method for analysing discourse in an institutional context are discussed. Two case-studies are used to highlight the pros and cons of the method. First, the competing discourses of environmental organisations, business associations, and EU officials with regard to environmental sustainability and the Fifth Action Programme are examined. The second case study addresses the issue of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-Ts) and examines different types of framing of sustainable mobility developed by policy actors. Conclusions are drawn with regard to the contribution of frame theory in the analysis of policy-making processes.

Negotiating Breast-Feeding: Pakistani Women, White Women and Their Experiences in Hospital and at Home

Alison Bowes and Teresa Meehan Domokos
Sociological Research Online 3 (3) 5

Keywords: Breast-Feeding; Health Services; Maternity Care; Negotiated Order; Pakistani Women; White Women
Abstract: Breast-feeding is a socially constructed and socially controlled practice, and the social factors which influence it have been much debated. This paper argues that a model of breast-feeding as a socially negotiated project can develop fresh insights into how women breast-feed, through focusing on women's own points of view, and on the role of health professionals. Data from a research study of women from diverse ethnic and class backgrounds are discussed. It is argued that breast-feeding women in hospital are generally subordinate to professionals, but remain active in the negotiation of breast-feeding. At home, health visitor support is especially significant. Breast-feeding appears to be a lonely struggle, and the end of breast-feeding is felt to be stimulated by outside influences. Successful breast-feeding projects are most likely for white, middle class women who have effective stocks of knowledge, and can negotiate concerted action with health professionals. Women belonging to socially excluded groups have greater difficulty in the negotiation process, and their breast-feeding projects are less likely to be successful. Whilst influenced by patterns of constraint, breast-feeding projects also show marked individuality. In conclusion, it is argued that the conceptualisation of breast-feeding as a negotiated project promises to improve sociological understanding, but that further research is needed.

How Gender and Ethnicity Intersect: the Significance of Education, Employment and Marital Status

Kalwant Bhopal
Sociological Research Online 3 (3) 6

Keywords: Education; Employment; Ethnicity; Gender; Marital Status; South Asian Women
Abstract: This paper examines Labour Force Survey (LFS) statistics on economic activity, highest educational qualification, marital status and ethnicity. The paper will specifically explore comparisons within South Asian groups and between other ethnic groups (Afro-Caribbean and white), to investigate whether marriage has a differential impact for different ethnic groups, and if there have been any changes over time (1984-1994). The LFS data indicates that marital status has a differential impact on economic activity and education for different ethnic groups. When controlling for age (25-30), martial status has more impact on Indian and Pakistani/Bangladeshi groups, than it does for Afro- Caribbean and white groups. There are differences between ethnic groups and there are also differences within the South Asian category. Rapid social change is taking place for the 25-30 age cohort, where some South Asian women are becoming highly educated and entering professional occupations. This finding supports recent research carried out on South Asian women in East London (Bhopal, 1997).

But Women Can't Have 'Hemophilia'!: A Look at the Lives of Women with Bleeding Disorder

Diane Kholos Wysocki
Sociological Research Online 3 (4) 3

Keywords: Gynecological Surgery; Hemophilia; Menorrhagia; Von Willebrand Disease; Women
Abstract: Most of the literature about hemophilia has been from a medical perspective and about men. This on-going project has been to document the lives and 'voices' of women who have a bleeding disorder, their experiences with the medical community, and the course of their diagnosis and treatment. The women in this study were predominantly Caucasian (92%), were currently married (66.7%), had (68.9%), and of those women who had children, the majority of their children (67.9%), both boys and girls, as well as other family members (63.3%) had some type of bleeding disorder. Findings revealed there was on average, a 14 year gap between the first bleeding episode and the diagnosis of a bleeding disorder. Women reported long, heavy menstrual cycles and having consulted a physician for menstrual bleeding as teenagers. Treatments for menstrual bleeding included D and C's (42.9%) and hysterectomies (34.5%), while referrals to Hemophilia Treatment Centers for a consultation were rare.

The Rape of the Nation: Women Narrativising Genocide

Ronit Lentin
Sociological Research Online 4 (2) lentin

Keywords: Femininities; Genocide; Masculinities; Personal Narratives; Power; Rape; War
Abstract: In this article I will firstly argue that genocide and wars are gendered but also often feminised via the positioning of women not only as sexual trophies exchangeable between male enemies, not only as markers of collective boundaries, but also as the symbolic representations of national and ethnic collectivities. I will then interrogate the centrality of rape as a component of ethno-sexual identities and an instrument of war, focusing on the difficulties we have 'as women' but also as social scientists, to theorise wartime rape. Finally I will propose that creating a forum for women war victims to narrativise their traumatic experiences is a vital feminist strategy of beginning to close the gap between genocide and gender and between trauma and the discourses available to narrate it.

Life Course Data Collection: Qualitative Interviewing using the Life Grid

Odette Parry
Sociological Research Online 4 (2) parry

Keywords: Arterial Disease; Indeterminacy; Life-Grid; Qualitative Methods; Smoking
Abstract: The life grid, has recently been acclaimed as a accurate method for collecting retrospective data from elderly respondents. Accounts of using this method, which are based upon quantitative studies, however, have not adequately captured the dynamics of grid interviewing. This is, we suggest, because it is much easier to describe technical aspects of a research method than it is to convey how that method works in practice. In this article we set out to portray some of these more 'indeterminate' aspects of the life grid interviewing, drawing on our own experiences of using this method in an qualitative study of lifecourse patterns of smoking behaviour among elderly respondents who have a smoking related illness. Focussing upon interaction between researcher and respondent the article explores the reconstruction of the life course as a mutual endeavour and the implications of this for the interview structure and data collection among this respondent group.

The Health Analysis and Action Cycle an Empowering Approach to Women's Health

Marion Gibbon
Sociological Research Online 4 (4) gibbon

Keywords: Community; Empowerment; Health Analysis and Action Cycle; Participatory Action Research; Power; Women's Health
Abstract: This paper analyses the health analysis cycle as an empowering approach to development. It discusses what the terms power and empowerment within the development discourse mean. It considers the factors that contribute to empowerment and those that hinder it. The study involved the use of a participatory action research approach in a community setting. The relationships between women's socio-economic circumstances, their ethnicity or caste and the process of empowerment are introduced through the use of case studies.The health analysis cycle is described in an annexe to this paper.

Women in the British Sociological Labour Market, 1960-1995

Jennifer Platt
Sociological Research Online 4 (4) platt

Keywords: Labour Market; Sociologists; Universities; Women's Employment
Abstract: Women have been a much lower proportion of university teachers of sociology than of students in sociology in Britain, and have also been under-represented in the higher ranks of academia. This has often been treated as the effect of discrimination. However, a review of available data suggests that women's choices - however formed - have also played a role, and that changing historical circumstances have affected the demography of the discipline in ways which have had significant consequences for women (and men) independent of either choice or discrimination. The current pattern cannot be understood without its history, which reveals that much of the snapshot picture of the situation now follows from strata of recruitment laid down at earlier periods.

Surviving through Substance Use: The Role of Substances in the Lives of Women who Appear before the Courts

Emma Wincup
Sociological Research Online 4 (4) wincup

Keywords: Agency; Gender; Structure; Substance Use; Women's Lives
Abstract: Drawing upon qualitative data gathered through fieldwork in three bail hostels, this paper outlines the role of substance use (illegal drugs, alcohol, prescribed medication and food) in the lives of women awaiting trial. Their use of substance is explored within the context of the multiple and complex problems which shaped their lives. It is argued that women's use of substances can be viewed as a active strategy to achieve personal and social satisfaction, to cope with stresses and problem experienced and to exert some degree of control over their lives. Whilst seemingly beneficial for the women in the short-term, ultimately substance use for this group of women can be seen as counter-productive and self-destructive; increasing the control of others (health care, social work and criminal justice professionals) over their lives, leading to social problems and damaging their emotional and physical well-being.

Writing about Health and Sickness: An Analysis of Contemporary Autobiographical Writing from the British Mass-Observation Archive

Helen Busby
Sociological Research Online 5 (2) busby

Keywords: Autobiographical; Health; Mass-Observation Archive; Narratives; Sickness; Work
Abstract: In this paper, I explore some of the writing about health and sickness undertaken by volunteers writing for a British social history archive. The Mass-Observation Archive's commissioning of diaries and other forms of self-reportage has made it a prominent part of the landscape of sociology in Britain (Calder, 1985). Initiated during the 1930s, the Mass- Observation Archive's early work included the well-known worktown project. The early project was wound up in 1950, but interest in the archives eventually prompted a new project, initiated in 1981. The 'new project' is essentially a collection of writing on a range of issues by a panel of volunteers recruited through the media and other informal means.This paper represents a cycling through of ideas about the relationships between health, sickness, and work, via my reading of some of the writing held at the Archive. The writings with which this paper is centrally concerned are the responses to an invitation issued in the autumn of 1998 for writing about 'Staying well and everyday life'. In addition, writings on 'The pace of life' and on working life were consulted. Unlike much of the data about sickness in relation to work - which relies on documentation of sickness absence- these accounts show actions which are not taken. Some of them point to a phenomenon which I have termed 'shadow sickness, that is illness which exists without there being a mechanism to translate that experience into recognised sickness. Overall though it is the moral context of illness and of ideas about staying well which are prominent in many of these accounts and which are discussed in this paper.

Conducting Qualitative Research on Wife Abuse: Dealing with the Issue of Anxiety.

Sevaste Chatzifotiou
Sociological Research Online 5 (2) chatzifotiou

Keywords: Anxiety; Domestic Violence; Fieldwork; Qualitative Research; Women
Abstract: Abused women are a very sensitive group with whom to conduct research. As such, researchers need to be aware of this inherent sensitivity and should design their research accordingly. The ethics of social research, the implications of conducting research on sensitive topics, the possible exposition of the participants to stressful moments for the sake of the interview are important issues to be taken under serious consideration by the researcher prior to undertaking the fieldwork. However, during the fieldwork the researcher might face issues which she had paid less attention to while designing the inquiry, namely issues of dealing with the anxiety that the interviews would expose on herself too.It is well recognised in the literature that the rights and safety of the participants must be of paramount importance to the researchers in every research project. Still, the researcher's 'safety' should not be underestimated or be given little attention. This paper, based on the experience of conducting research with abused women documents the issue of researcher's anxiety which was a salient issue throughout the study. Documenting the research process, from the research design through to issues which arose after the fieldwork, the paper draws attention on the issue of anxiety experienced by the researcher in various stages of the research, including prior, during and after leaving the field, and provides ways that these were dealt with.

Something Borrowed, Something Blue: Learning from Women's Groups in Indonesia

Marilyn Porter
Sociological Research Online 6 (2) porter

Keywords: Development; Human Rights; Indonesia; United; Women's Movements
Abstract: This paper focuses on the way in which Jakarta women's groups responded to the crisis that preceded and succeeded the end of Suharto's regime in Indonesia. In particular it looks at the way in which the gang rapes of women of Chinese descent focused and united the feminist response to the turmoil of 1998. Women's groups developed a number of strategies and actions during this period, but this paper focuses on the way in which women's groups accessed and used international instruments, especially Human Rights instruments to challenge their own government and to develop a specifically feminist position on violence against women. This activity is described as a form of creative 'borrowing'. Seen in this context is can provide a new perspective on approaches to development that are genuinely indigenous and participatory.

The Paradigm Contingent Career? Women in Regional Newspaper Journalism

Meryl Aldridge
Sociological Research Online 6 (3) aldridge

Keywords: Careers; Journalism; News Media; Newspapers; Women And Employment
Abstract: Current commentary on non-manual employment suggests that we are moving into an era of 'contingent careers' where current performance is the only valid criterion for reward and advancement. New-style jobs may be intensive and insecure, it is argued, but they are also less freighted with gender- based assumptions. Newspaper journalism, with its lack of bureaucratic organization, varied tasks, tradition of high employee mobility, and deep-seated belief in meritocracy would seem to fit well within this model. Interviews with women working in the UK regional press indicate, however, that the occupation is less egalitarian that many in the industry believe. Newspaper organisations and status hierarchies continue to be built around 'hard news', despite the commercial importance of other elements of content. Consequently management experience in newsgathering is a key stage in promotion, but this work as currently structured is incompatible with primary domestic responsibility for dependants. Even those without such concerns, or with limited ambitions, find the intensified work rÈgime in today's regional press hard to sustain. Considering why these working practices have remain largely unchallenged, the paper identifies five contributing factors. The epistemological individualism characteristic of women and well as men in journalism, a culture of vocation, the construction of editorial power as charismatic rather than bureaucratic, the commonsense populist style of most regional papers and, not least, journalists' own entrenched belief in the contingent nature of their employment combine to make the profession particularly resistant to acknowledging structural barriers to advancement.

Children, Belonging and Social Capital: The PTA and Middle Class Narratives of Social Involvement in the North-West of England

Gaynor R Bagnall, Brian John Longhurst and Mike Savage
Sociological Research Online 8 (4) bagnall

Keywords: Belonging; Children; Class; Cultural Capital; Identity.; Narratives; Parenthood; PTA; Social Capital; Social Involvement
Abstract: This paper uses data gathered from an ESRC funded research project on social networks, social capital and lifestyle to provide an account of narratives of belonging and social involvement. Drawing on data from 88 in-depth interviews carried out in the North-West of England between 1997 and 1999, we identify how parental involvement in voluntary organizations connected to their children, such as Parent Teachers Associations (PTA), figures in middle class narratives as a vehicle through which to perform belonging and social involvement. We argue that social involvement through children is presented as a dimension of feeling located in place socially. By using data from two contrasting areas, Wilmslow and Cheadle, we show how this concern to perform locally based parenthood nonetheless leads to very different patterns of engagement. The mobile, middle class in Wilmslow seek to build social capital through the generation of loose social networks based around children and children's education. We suggest that this serves the dual purpose of connecting them to 'like-minded' people and to the educational establishments they value as a means of getting ahead. In Cheadle, the generally less mobile respondents use their more local habitus to generate bonding forms of social capital with tighter social networks based around, kin, residence and leisure that enable them to 'get by'. We argue that the narratives of participation articulated relate to the respondents' degree of embeddedness in the locale, the different place-based habitus of each area and the gendering of family practices. At the heart of many of these narratives, particularly but not exclusively in Wilmslow, are tales about being a 'good' parent and more particularly of being a 'good' mother.

Persistence and Silence: A Narrative Analysis of Employee Responses to Organisational Change

Melanie Bryant
Sociological Research Online 8 (4) bryant

Keywords: Atrocity Tales.; Conversion Stories; Narratives; Organisational Change; Silence; Voice
Abstract: This article is concerned with how employees talk about organisational change and focuses specifically on how employees discuss reactions and responses to change through the construction of narratives. Employees included in this study suggest that the use of voice as an attempt to inform managers of their discontent, or remaining silent and passive are the most common responses to organisational change. Within sociology and management literature, voice has been considered as a constructive response to change, providing invaluable feedback to managers about declining conditions or performance lapses. Alternatively, remaining silent or passive has been documented as a weak strategy in which the individual renounces control and forms a dependency relationship with powerful groups such as managers. The primary aim of this paper is to challenge the argument that voice is a constructive response to change and suggest that voice is likely to be perceived as destructive, thus leading to the removal of responsibilities and career opportunities. Furthermore, this paper argues that silence is the more constructive response to change, which is documented in this research as leading to the advancement of careers. Relationships between the way employees respond to organisational change and the type of narrative that they construct is also discussed. Those who report remaining silent construct 'conversion stories' suggesting that organisational change provided a turning point in which employees could embrace management practices and gain career advancement. Alternatively, those who reported using voice construct 'atrocity tales' in which change is associated with stories of workplace bullying, removal of career opportunities and workplace violence. These narratives suggest that the use of voice as a response to change is more complex than its original intent and explanation in the literature, providing challenges for researchers in understanding where voice as a constructive response ends and where resistance to change begins.

Consumed with Sleep? Dormant Bodies in Consumer Culture

Simon Williams and Sharon Boden
Sociological Research Online 9 (2) williams

Keywords: Beauty; Consumption; Health; Leisure; Sleep; Work
Abstract: Abstract: This paper takes the neglected sociological matter of sleep and applies the insights contained therein to issues and debates within the sociology of consumption. Sleep, it is argued, is pursued if not consumed in a variety of ways in consumer culture, including its (lifestyle) associations with health and beauty, leisure and pleasure. It is also increasingly recognised if not contracted for in the workplace, construed as the 'ultimate performance enhancer' and the 'cheapest form of stress relief'. These and other insights are located in the context of a burgeoning 'sleep industry' and the consumer identities it spawns: one which is busy capitalising on this dormant third part of our lives through a range of products, from beds to bedding, night-wear to night-cream, pills to pillows. Sleep, it is concluded, is a crucial element of consumption, augmenting existing theoretical and empirical agendas in significant new ways. The broader sociological implications of sleep are also touched upon and addressed, as a stimulus to further research, discussion and debate.

Facilitating Social Networks Among Gay Men

Bob Cant
Sociological Research Online 9 (4) cant

Keywords: Diversity; Facilitation; Gay Men; Narratives; Networks; Sexuality; Social Circumstances
Abstract: Social networks are increasingly recognised as being beneficial to health and wellbeing. This paper, drawing from a qualitative study into health services targeted at gay men in London, explores the facilitation by service providers of social networks among gay men. Networks are dependent upon reciprocity among their participants and the study examines how shared narratives can generate a sense of the reciprocity that contributes to the development of networks. The networks discussed here promote instrumental support or communication or emotional well-being or a combination of those. The paper explores the diversity of narratives among the thirty eight gay male service users who were informants to this study. While narratives around experiencing same sex desire, encountering social isolation and making decisions about coming out were articulated by all these informants, there were other organising principles in their lives which also shaped their narratives and their decisions about whom they shared these narratives with. The paper focuses on the development of social networks among three groups of gay men: young South Asian men accessing HIV prevention services, men seeking to give up smoking in relation to their experiences in the commercial venues which constitute the gay scene and carers of gay men and lesbians suffering from a chronic disease. The paper seeks to generate opportunities for reflection about the means to promote health and well-being among this members of this marginalised population group.

Narratives of the Night: the Use of Audio Diaries in Researching Sleep

Jenny Hislop, Sara Arber, Robert Meadows and Susan Venn
Sociological Research Online 10 (4) hislop

Keywords: Qualitative Methods, Audio Diaries, Narratives, Sleep, Women, Couples, Social Context
Abstract: This article draws on data from two major empirical studies of sleep to examine the use of audio diaries as an approach to researching sleep. Sleep has only recently emerged as a topic of interest to the sociologist, providing a valuable resource through which to examine the roles and relationships and gender inequalities which underpin everyday life. Yet accessing individual experiences of sleep is problematic. Considered a non-conscious activity, sleep takes place in most cases at night within the private domain of the home and is thus generally inaccessible to the social researcher and outside the conscious reality of the sleeper. In exploring the social aspects of sleep, we rely primarily on respondents' interpretations of the sleep period given retrospectively in focus groups and in-depth interviews, distanced from the temporal, spatial and relational dimensions of the sleep event. This article also focuses on the use of audio diaries as a method designed to help bridge the gap between events in real time and retrospective accounts. We examine the narrative structure of audio diaries, discuss the principles and practice of using audio diaries in sleep research, illustrate the contribution of audio diary narratives to an understanding of the social context of sleep, and assess the use of audio diaries in social research. We conclude that, used in conjunction with other methods, audio diaries are an effective method of data collection, particularly for understanding experiences of intimate aspects of everyday life.

Beyond 'Juggling' and 'Flexibility': Classed and Gendered Experiences of Combining Employment and Motherhood

Jo Armstrong
Sociological Research Online 11 (2) armstrong

Keywords: Class, Gender, Women, Employment, Motherhood, Feminism, Bourdieu, Habitus, Life-Course, Qualitative Research.
Abstract: This paper proposes that there is a need to push beyond the popular discourses of 'flexibility' and 'work-life balance'. Developing a feminist-Bourdieuian approach and drawing on three illustrative case studies from my interview research with 27 mothers in the UK, I show the importance of maintaining a focus on class and gender inequalities. In the first part of the paper the concepts of capitals, dependencies and habitus which shaped, and were shaped by, this interview research are discussed. An analysis of three women's accounts of their experiences across work and family life is then used to illustrate that although these women all used terms such as 'flexibility' and 'juggling' in describing their work, the experience of that work was crucially influenced by their histories and current positioning. Tracing each of these women's trajectories from school, attention is focused on the influence of differential access to capitals and relations of dependency in the emergence of their dispositions toward work. Overall, the paper points to the significance of examining the classed and gendered dimensions of women's experiences of employment and motherhood.

Questioning the Subject in Biographical Interviewing

Jennifer Harding
Sociological Research Online 11 (3) harding

Keywords: Life History, Narratives of Self, Subject, Subject Positions, Interviewing, Biography, Chronology
Abstract: This paper considers how different approaches to interviewing and styles of questioning produce different sorts of biographical subjects and accounts. It compares styles of biographical interview (chronological and narrative) and types of question (narrative and explanatory), and presents an approach, which treats the interview as a collaborative co-production primarily concerned with the present and subjectivity, rather than the past and fact. It also considers how biographical interviewing may direct and contain narratives of the self through the subject positions it creates and offers interviewees. Discussion is grounded in reflection on a recent project involving university students in interviewing young people leaving care about their care experiences and making a training video for professionals. The paper highlights the inter-subjective and emotional aspects of interviewing in this context.

Patterns in the Telling: Single Women's Intimate Relationships with Men

Jill Reynolds
Sociological Research Online 11 (3) reynolds

Keywords: Single Women, Narrative, Discursive, Identity, Relationships
Abstract: This article explores some ways in which women not living with an intimate partner talk about their relationships with men. Data are considered in relation to social theorising on the changing nature of intimate relationships. The analysis makes use of traditions in narrative analysis and critical discursive psychology to identify some patterns in the telling, including common cultural resources that are drawn on by speakers. Patterned ways of portraying relationships identified in the data discussed here include a self-blame approach in describing extreme behaviour from the man concerned, and a repudiation of any intention of commitment through talk of the positive features of relationships with unavailable men. A further way of talking introduces a 'new realism' in which relationships are depicted as right for a time but dispensable when their time is up. The analysis suggests that concepts of individualisation and impermanence in relationships provide new cultural resources that women can draw on in providing a self-narrative. The data demonstrate the detailed rhetorical work involved in producing a positive account of the self as a single woman.

The Intimate Relationships of Contemporary Spinsters

Roona Simpson
Sociological Research Online 11 (3) simpson

Keywords: Intimate Relationships, Familial Change, Single Women
Abstract: Several theorists of social change have argued that there are profound transformations in social interactions emerging in the context of wider social, cultural and economic change, including a shift to greater choice and fluidity in personal relationships. Alongside this, there has been widespread academic support for the notion of individualism as a major explanation of family change, with several commentators raising concerns that changing familial forms signal increasing self-centredness and a decline in commitments to others. Remaining single can be seen as paradigmatic of such individualisation, and single women in particular risk being characterised by their lack of connection to significant others. However, there has been relatively little empirical attention to the relationships of single people. This paper draws on research on never-married single women in Britain and analyses their relationships with both kin and non-kin in relation to claimed transformations in intimacy prevalent in contemporary debates. It concludes by considering the implications of the main findings of this research for sociological debates about the changing conceptions of both intimacy and 'the family'.

'Are My Bones Normal Doctor?' the Role of Technology in Understanding and Communicating Health Risks for Midlife Women

Eileen Green, Frances Griffiths and Di Thompson
Sociological Research Online 11 (4) green

Keywords: Bone Densitometry, Risk, Midlife Women, Osteoporosis, Technology
Abstract: Contemporary medical science is increasingly saturated with risk and uncertainty, uncertainty which health professionals are obliged to manage in everyday consultation situations, but which patients presenting with specific health problems, want resolution to. This paper provides an overview of literature concerning the medicalization of women's bodies via health interventions such as screening, including the role played by medical technologies in defining degrees and forms of risk and uncertainty which are embedded within and generated by the screening processes themselves. We draw upon an ESRC funded study into the use of health technologies in women's midlife, in order to demonstrate how empirical research can illuminate the links between screening for osteoporosis and the recommendation and subsequent decision by women to use therapies such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT).The paper explores the centrality of bone densitometry in decision-making about potential risk. Drawing mainly upon data from 24 consultations in specialist clinics, 10 follow up interviews with the women concerned and 7 interviews with linked health professionals, we focus upon the interpretation and significance of the bone scan results. We conclude that, although the technological results are open to flexible interpretation, they seem to confirm the 'at risk' status of many of the women. The scan results appear to assume centre-stage in the consultation discussions, leading both women and clinicians to over interpret their significance as an indicator of risk.

Doing Gender on and off the Pitch: the World of Female Football Players

John Harris
Sociological Research Online 12 (1) harris

Keywords: Women\'s Football, Hegemony, Femininity, Masculinity, Sexual Orientation.
Abstract: The following paper looks at the experiences of female football (soccer) players at a College of Higher Education in the South of England. Association Football occupies a special place in English society where it has traditionally been linked to notions of toughness, manliness and hegemonic masculinity. The last decade has witnessed expedient growth in the number of women playing football and this has led to much debate related to the positioning of the game in contemporary society. Data was collected through an ethnographic approach utilizing observation and semi-structured interviews. Through their very participation in the game the women can be seen to be challenging notions of male hegemony. However their acceptance of the male game as being more important, and their adopting of discourse and ideologies emanating from the male model of the sport, means that they are also colluding in the (re)production of masculine hegemony. For the women in this study, of central importance to the development of a female footballing identity are issues surrounding sexual orientation within the football world. Women's football in England suffers from an 'image problem' which can and does lead to tension both on and off the pitch. This paper explores how these women make sense of their own involvement in the game and how they negotiate the contested ideological terrains surrounding femininity, masculinity and sexual orientation.

Narrating Ambivalence of Maternal Responsibility

Eija Sevón
Sociological Research Online 12 (2) sevon

Keywords: Care, Cultural Narratives, Ethics of Care, Morality, Motherhood, Narrative Research, Pleasure, Vulnerability
Abstract: Early motherhood and caring for the infant involve a moral ambiguity that is related to the questions of responsibility and vulnerability. By means of the ethics of care, motherhood can be understood as belonging to the moral domain, as relational, and as linked with everyday social situations. The culturally dominant narratives of 'good mothering' easily naturalise and normatise maternal agency. This study illustrates the process of adopting responsibility for the infant and the moral ambivalence that is inscribed in early maternal care. The data consist of four interview sessions with each of seven first-time mothers conducted during pregnancy and the first post-natal year. The interviews concentrated on events, relationships, routines, thoughts and feelings related to the mothers' daily caring for the baby. The women talked about their experiences drawing on two different narratives. The narrative of desirable responsibility unfolded the positive aspects of caring and responsibility for the baby. By means of this narrative, the women were able to give coherence to their lives as new mothers and to narrate the pleasure they felt in taking responsibility for their baby. In contrast, the narrative of maternal vulnerability showed the shadow side of maternal care focusing on the mothers' tiredness and distress. This narrative embodied 'moral monitoring' and 'epistemological struggles' between the dominant cultural narratives and the mothers' personal narratives. The study shows that early mothering is morally laden in two different ways simultaneously. Mothering itself is a moral disposition and practice characterised by ambivalence. The cultural narratives of 'good mothering' play a dual role in this process: they tempt women into pursuing intensive mothering, but at the same time they create an elusive moral imperative.

'It's Okay for a Man to Snore': the Influence of Gender on Sleep Disruption in Couples

Susan Venn
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 1

Keywords: Sleep, Snoring, Couples, Stigma, Sentient Activity, Blame
Abstract: Snoring is a common cause of disturbed sleep for both the snorer and their partner. Whilst the physical effects of snoring are well documented as causing excessive daytime sleepiness, decreased effectiveness at work and irritability, it is also important to recognise the impact snoring has on the negotiation of sleep within couple relationships. This article analyses qualitative data from an ESRC funded multi-disciplinary project on couples' sleep based on in-depth audio-tape recorded interviews with 31 couples (aged 20-59) where either one or both partners snore. Additionally, one week's audio sleep diaries were completed and follow up separate in-depth interviews were undertaken with each partner. The gendered nature and implications of snoring are analysed. Results indicate that there is a gendered conception of snoring, which is problematic for women in three ways. First, women who snore are embarrassed and stigmatised by this 'unfeminine' action. Secondly, the embarrassment that women feel about their snoring is compounded by their partners sharing that information outside the privacy of their relationship. Thirdly, by finding excuses for their male partners' snoring, as well as developing strategies to cope with its disruptive effects, most women are prioritising their partners' sleep over their own, and perpetuating their own sleep disruption.

Theorising Sleep Practices and Later Life: Moving to Sheltered Housing

Eileen Fairhurst
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 10

Keywords: Later Life, Re-Analysis, Sheltered Housing, Sleep Practices, Upstairs/downstairs
Abstract: This paper re-analyses data from a study of older people and sheltered housing which combined textual analysis of professional discourse with interviews. There were only two references salient to 'sleep' in that paper and I offered no analytic comment upon them. At that time, then, sleep as a sociologically interesting topic, was, for me a taken for granted matter. It is that taken for grantedness that is examined here. On being invited to contribute to this special issue, I went back to the original data and interrogated it for 'sleep'. I realised that, with this different concern, the texts and interviews contained much more about the 'doing' of sleep in later life than I had appreciated, especially where, when and how sleeping practices occur. Sleeping 'upstairs' or 'downstairs', in a single- or double-bed and on which side of the bed were all matters of relevance when older people were considering a move to sheltered housing. Older people's own sleeping practices are contrasted with those offered in texts produced by architects designing sheltered housing. The paper concludes by considering the methodological implications of re-analysing research materials for emerging sociological topics and by giving pointers to future research on sleep practices in later life.

The Social Significance of Sleep for Older People with Dementia in the Context of Care

Wendy Martin and Helen Bartlett
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 11

Keywords: Sleep, Care, Dementia, Memory, Risk, Vulnerability, Privacy, Time, Space, Surveillance
Abstract: While the social aspects of dementia have been increasingly researched over the past decade, there has been little focus on sleep and its significance to older people with dementia within the context of care. This paper attempts to address this knowledge gap by exploring the experiences of sleep among older people with dementia and the perceptions of family carers and care staff in different care settings. The paper is drawn from a larger research project that explored the empowerment of older people with dementia, and involved 18 in-depth interviews with older people with dementia and 8 focus groups with health and social care staff and family carers. The discourses of the older people with dementia and family carers, emphasised vulnerabilities associated with sleep, thematically represented as: (1) interconnections between health, care, the body and sleep; (2) memory loss and perceptions of sleep, time and place; and (3) a sense of vulnerability around night-time, sleep and safety. The sleep discourses of the older people with dementia and their family carers focused on meanings associated with experiential dimensions of sleep and were closely connected to their social identities and roles. The key concern for the health and social care staff was the organisation of sleep, including: (1) temporal management of sleep and sleep practices, and (2) management of sleep across public/private space: safety, surveillance and privacy. The sleep discourses of the health and social care staff predominately focused on sleep practices and environmental dimensions of sleep. These different perspectives denote varying positions and concerns in relation to sleep between waking conscious actors and dormant bodies, thereby highlighting the social significance of power relations and vulnerabilities within the context of care for older people with dementia.

Power, Ideology and Resources Within Families: a Theoretical Context for Empirical Research on Sleep

Jan Pahl
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 12

Keywords: Sleep, Money, Power, Ideology, Inequality, Resources, Theories
Abstract: The aim of this article is to outline and discuss theoretical approaches to the study of family life and to make suggestions about how these approaches might apply in planning and carrying out empirical research on sleep. It argues that, while theories about power and gender can inform research on sleep, the findings from research on sleep will help to extend and enrich theoretical approaches to family life and the social order. The article is concerned especially with gendered power relations and with 'sharing sleep'. It draws on Morgan's sociological analysis of family life, and on the distinction he makes between the political economy, the moral economy and the emotional economy. It uses research findings on the allocation of money and on domestic violence to examine different theoretical approaches and to consider how these theories might be used in research on sleep. In the past many of the battles which rage within bedrooms were individualised as 'her' or 'his' fault. Applying sociological understanding and theoretical approaches may enable some of these individual and very private troubles to be seen as more general issues, while making a contribution to the new sociology of sleep.

Are Children Getting Enough Sleep? Implications for Parents

Luci Wiggs
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 13

Keywords: Children – Parents – Mothers – Fathers – Sleeplessness -
Abstract: Sleeping is a child's primary activity; by the time an average child goes to school they will have spent more time sleeping than engaging in any other activity, such as playing, eating or interacting socially. Disturbances of sleep (especially sleeplessness) are one of the most frequent child behaviour problems to be reported by parents, affecting about 30% of typically developing children and adolescents. The definition of 'sleeplessness problems' will be considered noting how, with child sleeplessness, the complainant and the sufferer are frequently not the same person (frequently parents are the former and the children the latter), and that this has implications for how we should define and, where appropriate, attempt to 'treat' these problems. Parental perceptions and parental sleep patterns, moreover, may be key in understanding how some child sleeplessness problems are conceptualised, how they might impact on the child and family and the mechanisms by which successful intervention for childhood sleeplessness may result in benefits for families. The author suggests that child sleeplessness might be better theoretically conceptualised as comprising two distinct states with different causes and effects. Firstly, a `biologically-defined sleeplessness` characterised by a child having objectively impaired sleep quantity and/or quality, relative to their biological sleep needs. Secondly, a 'socially-defined sleeplessness' characterised by the child's sleep pattern deviating from a desired sleep pattern. Judgements about what constitutes a 'desired' sleep pattern will be influenced by multiple factors including expectations and culture. Both of these states may exist independently, or co-exist. Both of these states must be considered in order to decide whether or not children are getting enough sleep.

A Bed of Roses or a Bed of Thorns? Negotiating the Couple Relationship Through Sleep

Jenny Hislop
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 2

Keywords: Sleep, Couples, Interaction, Negotiation, Gender
Abstract: The convention in Western societies of partners sharing a bed is symbolic of their status as a couple, their commitment to the relationship, and their desire for shared intimacy. Yet for many couples, incompatibility as sleeping partners may threaten to undermine romantic notions of the double bed. This paper draws on in-depth interview and audio diary data from research into sleep in couples aged 20-59 (N=40) to examine how couples negotiate the spatial, temporal and relational dimensions of the sleeping environment. The paper contends that the management of tensions inherent in the sleeping relationship plays a key role in framing the couple identity over time, as well as reinforcing the gendered roles, power relationships and inequalities which underpin everyday life.

Gender Roles and Women's Sleep in Mid and Later Life: a Quantitative Approach

Sara Arber, Jenny Hislop, Marcos Bote and Robert Meadows
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 3

Keywords: Sleep, Women, Gender Roles, Partners, Children, Socio-Economic Circumstances, Survey
Abstract: Women in mid and later life report particularly poor quality sleep. This article suggests a sociologically-informed quantitative approach to teasing out the impact of women's roles and relationships on their sleep, while also taking into account women's socio-economic characteristics and health status. This was accomplished through analysis of the UK Women's Sleep Survey 2003, based on self-completion questionnaires from a national sample of 1445 women aged over 40. The article assesses the ways in which three central aspects of women's gender roles: the night-time behaviours of their partners, night-time behaviours of their children, and night-time worries – impact on women's sleep, while also considering how disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances and poor health may compromise women's sleep. Using bivariate analysis followed by hierarchical multiple regression models, we examine the relative importance of different aspects of women's gender roles. The key factors implicated in the poor sleep quality of midlife and older women are their partner's snoring, night-time worries and concerns, poor health status (especially experiencing pain at night), disadvantaged socio-economic status (especially having lower educational qualifications) and for women with children, their children coming home late at night.

Caring and Sleep Disruption Among Women in Italy

Emanuela Bianchera and Sara Arber
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 4

Keywords: Gender, Women, Caring, Caregivers, Italy, Sleep
Abstract: Drawing on qualitative research with 27 Italian women aged between 40 and 80 years, this article examines how family structure, gender role expectations and caring roles impact on women's sleep at different points in their life course. Care work shapes sleep quality and duration for the majority of these women. High levels of sleep disturbance were found among women who cared for older frail or disabled relatives. Women caring for young children and adult children living at home also experience decreased sleep quality. When informal care is unsupported, very demanding and stress provoking, sleep disturbance is greater, with women experiencing insomnia, frequent awakenings and light sleep. The article discusses the implications of inadequate welfare provision in Italy, which increases women's unpaid domestic caring work resulting in adverse effects on sleep quality and their overall well being.

Embodying and Embedding Children's Sleep: Some Sociological Comments and Observations

Simon Williams, Pam Lowe and Frances Griffiths
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 6

Keywords: Children, Childhood, Sleep, Sociology, Embodiment
Abstract: This paper, drawing on our own research findings data, explores the embodiment and embedment of sleeping in children's everyday/night lives. Key themes here include children's attitudes and feelings toward the dormant body, the processes, routines and rituals associated with going to bed and going to sleep, issues associated with bedrooms and privacy, and finally the relationship between dormancy and domicile. This in turn provides the basis, in the remainder of the paper, for a further series of reflections on the mutually informing relations between the sociology of sleep and the sociology of childhood. Remaining questions and challenges involved in researching children's sleep are also considered. Sleep, it is concluded, is not simply a rich and fascinating sociological topic in its own right it also has the potential to shed valuable new light on a significant yet hitherto under-researched part of children's lives, contributing important new insights in doing so.

The Meanings of Sleep: Stories from Older Women in Care

Brooke Davis, Bernadette Hood and Dorothy Bruck
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 7

Keywords: Women, Aged-Care, Subjective Sleep Quality, Self-Categorization, Social Comparison, Temporal Comparison
Abstract: This study is a two phase project which utilizes a mixed methods design to investigate the construct of 'good' and 'poor' sleep quality amongst a cohort of older women in Australian residential care. Phase one of the study demonstrates the lack of congruence between quantitative measures of sleep behavior and self categorizations by the participants as 'good' or 'poor' sleepers. This lack of congruence is explored in the second phase of the project where semi structured interviews investigate the process by which self categorizations emerge. Interview data ratifies the findings of phase one identifying that the process of self-categorization is not necessarily linked to sleep behaviors, as many of these phenomena such as nocturnal disruption, or early morning awakenings were similarly described by self-categorized 'good' and 'poor' sleepers. Rather, it appears that these women, through the process of upward and downward social comparison, construct ideas about 'normal' sleep, and it is this normative definition, rather than the sleep phenomena experienced, that the individual uses to provide a benchmark for their self-categorization of sleep quality.

The Sleeping Lives of Children and Teenagers: Night-Worlds and Arenas of Action

Jo Moran-Ellis and Susan Venn
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 9

Keywords: Sleep, Children, Night-Worlds, Social Construction, Interaction, Teenagers, Arenas of Action
Abstract: Most research into sleep, even that which includes a sociological dimension, tends to focus on sleep outcomes, in effect following an agenda set by the natural sciences and psychology. The work reported in this paper engages with the material and social dimensions of sleep from within social constructionist and interactionist frameworks, seeking to explore and theorise the meaning and experience of sleep from the perspective of the sleeper. In doing this, we examine how contemporary constructions of sleep and constructions of childhood and adolescence arise and are linked in the UK context. Sleep time tends to be constructed as empty of activity other than sleeping and devoid of the sorts of interactions that characterise wakeful day-time. However, a grounded analysis of qualitative data generated with 9 children and 2o teenagers suggested that the assumption of absence of activity and interaction was misleading: their nights were populated by a range of actors, presences and activities. Placing our focus on these aspects of our participants' accounts of their sleep we found that the temporal, spatial and interactional dimensions of routine sleep served to create a definable arena of action (Hutchby and Moran-Ellis 1998) which was marked out both materially and socially. We conceptually frame this arena of sleep as a night-world (Moran-Ellis, 2006).

'I've Always Managed, That's What We Do': Social Capital and Women's Experiences of Social Exclusion

Victoria K. Gosling
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 1

Keywords: Coping Strategies, Poverty, Social Capital, Social Exclusion, Women
Abstract: It is evident that the concept of 'social capital' has recently come to the forefront of many governmental strategies aimed at combating social exclusion. In particular the interpretation of social capital used by many authors and agencies is one that emphasises the importance of not only social networks and contacts, but also a social responsibility to one's local community and wider society. Most notably it is poor people and poorer neighbourhoods that are seen to be lacking in these forms of social capital, and therefore emphasis is placed upon individual and community responsibility for tackling their own (and other's) exclusion. Drawing on in-depth interviews with women living on a deprived inner-city housing estate in the north of England, this research considers existing practices, forms and gendered nature of social capital for these women. The paper concludes that contrary to popular beliefs, many of these women already possessed forms of social capital, and specifically, that this was beneficial in helping them cope and 'get by' within their everyday experiences of social exclusion. This research highlights the potential exclusionary nature of social capital for certain individuals and the limitations of social capital in helping excluded women to escape their poverty.

Language, Gender and Citizenship: Obstacles in the Path to Learning English for Bangladeshi Women in London's East End

Nilufar Ahmed
Sociological Research Online 13 (5) 12

Keywords: Bangladeshi Women; Citizenship; Learning English, Tower Hamlets
Abstract: A key element of the Government's citizenship strategy is the requirement that all immigrants have a basic command of English. The lack of English speaking skills has been identified as a contributory factor to much of the social unrest amongst different communities in the UK. It has been argued that the ability to speak English will allow immigrants to integrate better, create more cohesive communities and reduce segregation. This paper will question the emphasis placed on language proficiency in reducing segregation and discuss issues around language and citizenship by exploring the experiences of Bangladeshi women living in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Drawing on qualitative interviews it will argue that while the ability to speak English may indeed enhance elements of women's lives and allow them to engage more actively in the community, there may be an over-emphasis on its role in reducing segregation. The paper also argues that learning English is not simply a matter of personal choice, multiple cultural and gendered factors intersect to sometimes limit individual's options. Within the Bangladeshi community, women's voices are the least heard, their opinions are rarely sought and it is usually the men from the community who speak on behalf of the women. This paper will show how whilst Asian men were denouncing policies to encourage learning English, women expressed a strong desire to be able to speak English, yet identified a range of obstacles preventing them from being able to learn. It is suggested that more attention needs to be paid to women's needs to help facilitate their participation in the community and aid them to achieve full citizenship status. This is turn can enable women to help create more cohesive communities.

Making Use of Audio Diaries in Research with Young People: Examining Narrative, Participation and Audience

Nancy Worth
Sociological Research Online 14 (4) 9

Keywords: Audio Diaries, Qualitative Methods, Young People, Narrative, Audience, Transitions to Adulthood
Abstract: This article examines the use of audio diaries as an innovative method for research with young people. As the second stage of a project about visually impaired (VI) young people's transitions to adulthood, young people recorded their experiences and reflections about growing up on microcassette recorders. As a follow-up to a narrative interview, audio diaries allowed the research to get closer to the lives of young people, as participants actively reinterpreted the research questions in the context of their own lives. This article focuses on the utility of audio diaries—detailing the research process and the accessibility of the method for VI young people. Then, using excerpts from a set of twenty-two audio diaries, this article examines how the audio diary technique designed for this project engages with three key issues: how audio diaries capture narrative in distinctive ways; how the method can be employed within a participatory framework; and how audio diaries raise complex issues about the nature of audience.

Illness Narratives Revisited: The Failure of Narrative Reductionism

Paul Atkinson
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 16

Keywords: Narrative Analysis, Illness Narratives, Accounts, Speech Acts
Abstract: The argument uses the proliferating research literature on 'illness narratives' to make a more general analytic point about the proper treatment of narratives and life-stories by social scientists. It is suggested that, notwithstanding earlier commentary and criticism, and despite the sophistication of authors such as Mishler, too many narrative-based studies fall far short of a thoroughly analytic approach to such spoken actions. Too often narratives are celebrated as the means for analysts to gain access to personal experience, to the subjective or private aspects of illness. It is argued that we still need analytic strategies that treat illness (or any) narratives as speech acts, based on socially shared resources.

Charles Tilly: Connecting Large Scale Social Change and Personal Narrative

Ernesto Castaneda
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 24

Keywords: Charles Tilly, Contentious Politics, Social Change, Stories, Narratives
Abstract: Charles Tilly's work as a historical sociologist and on states, social change and other topics has had powerful influence across the social sciences and social history, also having a large popular audience. Themes and issues in his work over time are explored, in particular his developing thinking about national states, macro and micro processes, stories and social change.

Let's Get Organised: Practicing and Valuing Scientific Work Inside and Outside the Laboratory

Lisa Garforth and Anne Kerr
Sociological Research Online 15 (2) 11

Keywords: Women, Science, Laboratory, Epistemic Community, Organisation, Value, Work, Career, Housekeeping
Abstract: Over the past thirty years there has been a significant turn towards practice and away from institutions in sociological frameworks for understanding science. This new emphasis on studying 'science in action' (Latour 1987) and 'epistemic cultures' (Knorr Cetina 1999) has not been shared by academic and policy literatures on the problem of women and science, which have focused on the marginalisation and under-representation of women in science careers and academic institutions. In this paper we draw on elements of both these approaches to think about epistemic communities as simultaneously practical and organisational. We argue that an understanding of organisational structures is missing in science studies, and that studies of the under-representation of women lack attention to the detail of how scientific work is done in practice. Both are necessary to understand the gendering of science work. Our arguments are based on findings of a qualitative study of bioscience researchers in a British university. Conducted as part of a European project on knowledge production, institutions and gender the UK study involved interviews, focus groups and participant observation in two laboratories. Drawing on extracts from our data we look first at laboratories as relatively unhierarchical communities of practice. We go on to show the ways in which institutional forces, particularly contractual insecurity and the linear career, work to reproduce patterns of gendered inequality. Finally, we analyse how these patterns shape the gendered value and performance of 'housekeeping work' in the laboratory.

'My Bed or Our Bed?': Gendered Negotiations in the Sleep of Same-Sex Couples

Allison Kirkman
Sociological Research Online 15 (2) 5

Keywords: Sleep, Gender, Sexuality, Same-Sex Couples, Intimacy, Caring
Abstract: Sexuality as well as gender can be added to the range of socio-structural factors that influence the social patterning of sleep. This paper draws on in-depth interviews with 20 women and men aged between 45 – 65 years in same-sex couple relationships to examine how they negotiate their sleeping arrangements. The paper contends that gender differences are evident in how these negotiations are played out in the bedroom with women and men in same-sex relationships mirroring some of the patterns demonstrated in the research about women and men in opposite-sex couple relationships. However there are also differences, both between the same-sex women and men, and also when compared with the research concerned with the sleep negotiations between opposite-sex couples. These differences relate to the strategies used in managing a same-sex coupled identity with sharing a bed part of this management.

Innovation and Reduction in Contemporary Qualitative Methods: The Case of Conceptual Coupling, Activity-Type Pairs and Auto-Ethnography

William Housley and Robin James Smith
Sociological Research Online 15 (4) 9

Keywords: Social Order, Discourse, Narrative, Mobile Methods, Auto-Ethnography, Reflexivity, Innovation, Qualitative Methods
Abstract: During the course of this paper we mobilise an ideal typical framework that identifies three waves of reduction within contemporary qualitative inquiry as they relate to key aspects of the sociological tradition. The paper begins with a consideration of one of sociology's key questions; namely how is social organisation possible? The paper aims to demonstrate how this question moves from view as increased specialisation and differentiation in qualitative methodology within sociology and related disciplines results in a fragmentation and decontextualisation of social practices from social orders. Indeed, the extent to which qualitative methods have been detached from sociological principles is considered in relation to the emergence of a reductionist tendency. The paper argues that the first wave is typified by conceptual couplings such as 'discourse and the subject', 'narrative and experience', 'space and place' and the second by 'activity type couplings' such as 'walking and talking' and 'making and telling' and then, finally, the third wave exemplified through auto-ethnography and digital lifelogging. We argue each of these three waves represent a series of steps in qualitative reduction that, whilst representing innovation, need to reconnect with questions of action, order and social organisation as a complex whole as opposed to disparate parts.

'A Slice of Life': Food Narratives and Menus from Mass-Observers in 1982 and 1945

Sarah Nettleton and Emma Uprichard
Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 5

Keywords: Mass Observation Archive; Food and Eating; Qualitative; Personal Food Narratives; Secondary Analysis; Longitudinal
Abstract: This paper reports on an analysis of hitherto unexamined documentary data on food held within the UK Mass Observation Archive (MOA). In particular it discusses responses to the 1982 Winter Directive which asked MOA correspondents about their experiences of food and eating, and the food diaries submitted by MOA panel members in 1945. What is striking about these data is the extent to which memories of food and eating are interwoven with recollections of the lifecourse; in particular social relations, family life, and work. It seems asking people about food generates insight into aspects of everyday life. In essence, memories of food provide a crucial and potentially overlooked medium for developing an appreciation of social change. We propose the concept 'food narratives' to capture the essence of these reflections because they reveal something more than personal stories; they are both individual and collective experiences in that personal food narratives draw upon shared cultural repertoires, generational memories, and tensions between age cohorts. Food narratives are embodied and embedded in social networks, socio-cultural contexts and socio-economic epochs. Thus the daily menus recorded in 1945 and memories scribed in 1982 do not simply communicate what people ate, liked and disliked but throw light on two contrasting moments of British history; the end of the second world war and an era of transition, reform, individualization, diversity which was taking place in the early 1980s.

Ethical Regulation and Visual Methods: Making Visual Research Impossible or Developing Good Practice?

Rose Wiles, Amanda Coffey, Judy Robison and Jon Prosser
Sociological Research Online 17 (1) 8

Keywords: Visual Research; Visual Methods; Ethics Committees; Ethical Regulation; Research Governance; Qualitative Methods
Abstract: The ethical regulation of social research in the UK has been steadily increasing over the last decade or so and comprises a form of audit to which all researchers in Higher Education are subject. Concerns have been raised by social researchers using visual methods that such ethical scrutiny and regulation will place severe limitations on visual research developments and practice. This paper draws on a qualitative study of social researchers using visual methods in the UK. The study explored their views, the challenges they face and the practices they adopt in relation to processes of ethical review. Researchers reflected on the variety of strategies they adopted for managing the ethical approval process in relation to visual research. For some this meant explicitly 'making the case' for undertaking visual research, notwithstanding the ethical challenges, while for others it involved 'normalising' visual methods in ways which delimited the possible ethical dilemmas of visual approaches. Researchers only rarely identified significant barriers to conducting visual research from ethical approval processes, though skilful negotiation and actively managing the system was often required. Nevertheless, the climate of increasing ethical regulation is identified as having a potential detrimental effect on visual research practice and development, in some instances leading to subtle but significant self-censorship in the dissemination of findings.

Using Spoken and Written Qualitative Methods to Explore Children's and Young People's Food and Eating Practices

Wendy J. Wills
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 16

Keywords: Children; Young People; Food and Eating Practices; Spoken and Written Qualitative Methods; Narrative Inquiry
Abstract: Research examining children's and young people's food and eating practices has become more common place in recent years. Qualitative methods can be useful in such sense-making research, where an individual's narrative is likely to involve complexity, contradiction and ambiguity. Speaking and writing about food and eating can offer participants of all ages and most abilities the opportunity to delve into their own world of practice. Commonly used methods, like the individual interview and focus group, whilst suitable for studies of this kind, are not without their drawbacks. There are important ethical issues concerning children's privacy and their right not to reveal 'too much' to the researcher or their family. Innovative methods which deserve greater consideration include audio diaries, memory work/books, email interviews and interviews 'on the move'. All offer the researcher the opportunity to build rapport with and collect narratives about food and eating from children and young people.

Between Political Fad and Political Empowerment: A Critical Evaluation of the National Muslim Women's Advisory Group (NMWAG) and Governmental Processes of Engaging Muslim Women

Chris Allen and Surinder Guru
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 17

Keywords: National Muslim Women's Advisory Group; Muslim Communities; Political Engagement; Consultation; Extremism; Gender
Abstract: Established in 2008 and launched by the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, the National Muslim Women's Advisory Group (NMWAG) brought together 19 British Muslim women to advise Government on ways to empower Muslim women and increase their participation in civic, economic and social life. This article critically considers the NMWAG as a vehicle for improving how government sought to engage Muslim women within the context of a political and policy agenda that sought to prevent violent extremism. The article begins with a consideration of the ways in which women's groups - including those which might represent more than one constituency, BME women for instance - have traditionally emerged and mobilised as a means of advocating and lobbying on behalf of those they represent. From here, the article considers how government has engaged with faith communities, paying particular attention to governmental dialogue with Muslims, the reasons for this, and where - if at all - Muslim women have featured. From here, the article approaches the way in which the establishment of the NMWAG is anomalous in comparison to historical processes, putting forward some observations and theories to explain why this might have been so whilst also considering the impacts - both potential and actual - within the context of the post-9/11 era. In conclusion, this article considers the impact of the NMWAG as a means of improving learning about the role and process of governmental engagement.

Ways of Seeing, Ways of Being and Ways of Knowing in the Inner-City: Exploring Sense of Place Through Visual Tours

Magali Peyrefitte
Sociological Research Online 17 (4) 11

Keywords: Sense of Place; Narratives; Visual Tours; Walking; Photographs
Abstract: This paper presents an innovative insight into the complexities of the ways in which sense of place can be expressed and experienced. It particularly focuses on the phenomenological rapport participants have to the physicality of place and how it impacts on their ways of being, ways of seeing and on the construction of a sense of place (ways of knowing). In doing so it makes a case for conducting visual tours. Here I present the methodological framework that structured this approach and I give examples of how it can work. The narrative of this paper is constructed around three accounts of three different visual tours that were conducted in inner-city Nottingham. I argue that visual tours result in the combination of four types of intersecting narratives that give extra dimensions to the process of exploring ways of seeing and ways of being in the city: 1. the narrative of walking, 2. the visual narrative, 3. the narrative of the conversation in-situ 4. and finally the narrative of the written account by the researcher. All of these narratives are constitutive and constructive of a sense of place. In the case of my research on British Asian suburbanisation in Nottingham, these intersecting narratives brought to light a series of points on ways of seeing and ways of being and overall on ways of knowing the city. It highlighted a sense of place constructed around paradoxes, dichotomies and overall contrasted visions of the inner city where participants used to live and the suburbs of desirable housing where they now live. These kinds of observations are essential in understanding the way mobility and movements operate in the 'multicultural city'.

Intersectional Plays of Identity: The Experiences of British Asian Female Footballers

Aarti Ratna
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 13

Keywords: Intersectionality, Performativity, Ontological Complicity, 'race' and Gender, British Asians and Women's Football
Abstract: Debates regarding intersectionality have been widely held in the U.K. and elsewhere for over a decade. However, the value of intersectionality has been questioned as researchers struggle to analyse intersectionality-in-practice. That is, how and why social identities connect in the ways that they do in the everyday lives of women and men. In this paper I argue that the concepts of 'performativity' and 'ontological complicity' offer a useful way of exploring the articulation of identities. I specifically draw on empirical research about the experiences of British Asian female footballers, to signal how their particular identities articulate in and through the spaces of women's football. I argue that by playing-up some identity dispositions and concomitantly playing-down others, British Asian females are able to negotiate inclusion within the spaces of the women's game. However, this does not mean that they automatically become valued insiders. At other times, and in other spaces, their marginalisation from and within the game is clear. I suggest that considering the intersectional plays of identity captures the complex and nuanced operation of discrimination, which is often rendered invisible in women's football.

Social Theory or Attitudinal Types: A Case Study of Attitudes Towards Relationships

Laura Watt and Mark Elliot
Sociological Research Online 19 (1) 13

Keywords: Relationships, Attitudes, Couples, Intimacy, Individualisation, Confluent Love
Abstract: Sociological theories can be viewed as models of (sub)-populations. In this paper we explore the possibility of representing social theories as attitudinal types rather than as descriptions of society at large. To test this idea we investigate the relevance of four different theories of couple relationships to the attitudes of 18 to 30 year olds. Rather than testing these theories via aggregate social trends, we investigate the plausibility of treating the four social theories as attitudinal types that can be used to distinguish between the thoughts and feelings of different young adults. A self-completion attitude measure is created and used to gather data from a pilot sample of 18 to 30 year olds living in Preston, UK (n=306). Cluster analysis is then used to identify potential attitude types from among the respondents which are discussed in relation to the four theories.

In This World but Not of It: Midwives, Amish, and the Politics of Power

Natalie Jolly
Sociological Research Online 19 (2) 13

Keywords: Amish, Qualitative, Midwifery, Power, Rural Sociology, Women
Abstract: In this paper, I investigate the role of the non-Amish midwife in Amish society. Conventional research on the Amish has overlooked the role the midwife plays in the structure of the Amish community, given that midwives who serve the Amish are not members of the community they serve and are not themselves Amish. Despite their status as outsiders to Amish society, I draw on ethnographic data collected during a two-year study with a non-Amish midwife to argue that the non-Amish midwife provides Amish women and men access to knowledge about sex and sexuality, provides them resources such as books and condoms, and shapes the structure of Amish society through these channels. Her power is clearly demonstrated in her ability to broker access between the Amish and non-Amish worlds, and her fingerprints on the community she serves exist long after she has caught a baby. So while the non-Amish midwife has largely remained invisible when viewed from conventional analyses of Amish society, I suggest that her position on the margin between Amish and non-Amish society is worth considering. As an analytic category, this position " neither fully part of Amish society nor fully extricated from it " has something to offer studies of community power within the field of Sociology and augment future studies of Amish society.

Acculturation, Not Socialization, for African American Females in the STEM Fields

Joretta Joseph
Sociological Research Online 19 (2) 8

Keywords: African American Females, Women of Color, Acculturation, Sociology, Socialization, Psychology, STEM
Abstract: This article takes a brief look at the manner in which African American females in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have been studied over the years. Noting that this group faces challenges due to gender and race, research has not always presented their struggles and successes from both a sociological and psychological view. Socialization theory has yielded a great deal of information despite the socialization process being driven by those in charge of the structure by which a person progresses through the STEM fields. Acculturation theory provides a glimpse of how African American females in these aforementioned fields progress from their perspective. Acculturation framework is of value because it parallels the emotional, cognitive, and behavior patterns students take as they progress through graduate school in order to become colleagues of the very professors that taught them. The framework considers the effects of the person’s previous background and experiences, their coping skills and tactics, which are important to the success of African American females. Another common dynamic across the theory of acculturation and the experiences of these women is choice and the freedom to choose their own acculturation patterns.

Working at Pleasure in Young Women’s Alcohol Consumption: A Participatory Visual Ethnography

Angus Bancroft, Mariah Jade Zimpfer, Orla Murray and Martina Karels
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 20

Keywords: Alcohol, Pleasure, Gender, Women, Students
Abstract: This paper reports on a participatory ethnography conducted with undergraduate students. It examined the rituals and habits through which they constructed their intoxication culture. Students used video recording devices such as smartphones to collect data about aspects of their intoxication experiences. They were then interviewed about emerging analytical themes. In this paper we focus on one aspect of intoxication culture, the place of pleasure in women’s accounts. We build on previous research that showed that pleasure was present but not always dominant in women’s accounts of leisure focused drinking. They experienced the predominant, neo-liberal concept of pleasure as a demand which had to be navigated alongside their own desires which could include a preference for a more situated, intimate, sociability. Pre-drinking occasions were especially significant as places where bonds could be built up and body and self prepared to enter the public night-time economy. For many, this preparation became the main, enjoyable event in contrast to sometimes fraught and demanding public drinking spaces, where women could find themselves subject to various critical judgements about their femininity. Their activities on these occasions focused on achieving a ‘good drunk’, a manageable state of group intoxication. We use these findings to comment critically on the gendering of the night-time economy, the narrow framing of ‘pleasure’ in it, and the commodification of student experience in the UK.

Reflections on Positionality from a Russian Woman Interviewing Russian-Speaking Women in London

Darya Malyutina
Sociological Research Online 19 (4) 15

Keywords: Reflexivity, Positionality, Ethnography, Women, Migrants, Friendship
Abstract: This paper explores the implications of shared femininity in a qualitative study of friendship networks amongst Russian-speaking migrants in London by a Russian researcher. Drawing upon feminist literature on the complexities of women interviewing women, I outline the reflexive approach to positionality informing power relations and establishment of trust in the relationship between the researcher and the researched. The examples of interviewing a friend and two friendly strangers demonstrate the ways of negotiating mutual positions in the interaction. Shared gender is regarded as partially, but not universally, promoting rapport, taking into account the intersectionality of multiple differences between women. Considering the researcher’s positionality has been presented in this paper as a means of making similarities and differences between participants useful for the critical interpretation of the work, and using its relevant aspects for building a positive, open, and more equal interaction.

Studying the Complex Dynamics of Family Relationships: A Figurational Approach

Anna-Maija Castrén and Kaisa Ketokivi
Sociological Research Online 20 (1) 3

Keywords: Figurational Approach, Elias, Family Relationships, Qualitative Methods, Qualitative Network Analysis, Narrative Approach
Abstract: In this paper, we present a figurational approach to studying family relationships drawing from Norbert Elias’s notion of figuration that combines insider and outsider perspectives to complex relational dynamics. In recent discussions on intimacy and personal lives, the family has been viewed as a subset of any personal relationships despite the structural dynamics of, for example, gender and generation that are at play within families. On the other hand, it has been claimed that a family has a special dynamic of its own that requires a ‘language of family’. In this paper, we present a figurational approach for studying family relationships both as personally lived and as embedded in wider webs of relationships. The proposed approach combines qualitative insight drawn from interviews and a systematic mapping of significant webs of relationships that both constrain and enable people. Combining these two aspects highlights the complex family dynamics and lived ambivalences between personal affinities and relational expectations. The paper draws from empirical studies in which significant life events, including marriage and biographical disruptions, such as loss, divorce and illness, reconfigure people’s lives and selves, highlighting the contemporary complexity of families and personal relationships. The article develops relational methodology, addressing the ‘middle ground’ of relations to bring together the personal and the more structural aspects of family dynamics that phases of biographical change make visible.

Negotiating Intimate and (A)sexual Stories

Jo Woodiwiss
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 1

Keywords: Intimacy, Sexuality, Childhood Sexual Abuse, Narratives, Self-Help, Therapy
Abstract: Drawing on a research project looking at women’s engagement with therapeutic/self-help literature this paper uses the concept of narrative frameworks to explore women’s negotiation of currently circulating stories of healthy womanhood, intimacy and sexuality. In a (western) world increasingly informed by therapeutic discourses, adult women are told they are entitled to happiness and success and failure to do so is seen to result from past (often traumatic) experiences which might or might not be remembered. Central to this construction of womanhood is what (drawing on Rich 1980) I have called ‘compulsory sexuality’ whereby the healthy adult woman is constructed as sexually knowledgeable, active and desirous. This not only puts pressure on all women to construct a (particular) active sexual self but helps to construct those who do not as problematic and directs them to seek both cause and solution in their damaged psychologies. One such cause is said to be childhood sexual abuse and the self-help literature aimed at survivors of such abuse encourages readers to use the idea(l) of an active sexual self as a measure of health, well-being and ultimately womanhood. In this paper I argue that contemporary narrative frameworks of healthy womanhood not only allows for women who are not, or do not wish to be, sexually active to be identified as problematic, but directs them to see themselves as damaged. In critiquing the sexual abuse recovery literature I also show how this can be used to create different a/sexual selves, albeit ones currently perceived to be ‘damaged’.

Negotiating Intimacy, Equality and Sexuality in the Transition to Parenthood

Charlotte Faircloth
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 3

Keywords: Parenting, Gender, Intimacy, Equality, Sex, Couples
Abstract: Whilst both ‘parenting’ and ‘intimacy’ have been explored extensively in recent social scientific research (for example, Lee et al 2014, Gabb and Silva 2011), their intersections in the context of family life remain curiously absent. This paper presents findings from on-going longitudinal research with parents in London, which investigates how the care of children, and particularly the feeding of infants, affects the parental couple’s ‘intimate’ relationship. In particular, as part of this special section, it looks at couples’ accounts of sex as they make the transition to parenthood, as a lens on the themes of gender, intimacy and equality. Far from being an easy relationship between them, as predicted by some scholars, this research shows that they are in fact, ‘uncomfortable bedfellows’.

Desires, Expectations and the Sexual Practices of Married and Cohabiting Heterosexual Women

Jenny van Hooff
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 4

Keywords: Sexual Practices, Heterosexuality, Couples, Women, Relationships, Gender
Abstract: This article draws on qualitative interviews in order to analyse the ways in which heterosexual women reconcile their everyday lived sexual practices, expectations and desires. Focusing on the accounts of twenty women in long-term relationships, analysis suggests that the sexual practices of the women interviewed continue to be largely conducted within a dominant heteronormative framework. This runs contrary to claims about the democratisation or queering of sexual relations (Giddens 1992; Roseneil 2000). I argue that participants’ sexual desires and expectations are undermined by essentialist understandings of masculinity and femininity, with shifts in the outward forms of heterosexuality having a limited impact upon sexual practices which continue to be entrenched in heteronormative ideals.

A Changing Landscape of Intimacy: The Case of a Single Mother by Choice

Linda L. Layne
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 7

Keywords: Intimacy, Single Mothers by Choice, Heterosexuality, Landscape, Friendship, Co-Sleeping
Abstract: American women who purposely undertake motherhood without the involvement of a male partner tend to be beneficiaries of second-wave feminist achievements in the areas of expanded educational and employment opportunities. I draw on an in-depth, longitudinal case study of one such Single Mother by Choice (SMC)to explore how the opportunities she has enjoyed and professional achievements she has attained have shaped her ‘intimate landscape.’ Intimacy means ‘innermost,’ and refers to a spatial relationship, whether physical and or metaphorical. ‘Landscape’ refers to ‘all the visible features of an area’ and ‘the distinctive features of a particular situation or intellectual activity.’ Together Carmen and I engaged in topography, producing a detailed description of the arrangement of the features of this area of her life—the intimate physical and emotional relations with her children, her dog, her mother, and close emotional relationships with her siblings and their families, some friends, and members of her church.

‘Safe Spaces’: Experiences of Feminist Women-Only Space

Ruth Lewis, Elizabeth Sharp, Jenni Remnant and Rhiannon Redpath
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 9

Keywords: Feminism, Safety, Women, Space, Women-Only, Activism
Abstract: The gendered nature of safety has been explored empirically and theoretically as awareness has grown of the pervasive challenges to women’s safety. Notions of ‘safe space’ are frequently invoked in wider feminist environments (particularly, recently, in relation to debates about trans people’s access to women’s spaces), but are relatively neglected in academia. Indeed, despite a body of scholarship which looks at questions of gender, safety and space, relatively little attention has been paid to exploring the meaning of ‘safety’ for women and, particularly, the meaning and experience of spaces they consider to be ‘safe.’. Drawing on focus group data with 30 women who attended a two-day, women-only feminist gathering in the UK, this paper analyses experiences of what they describe as ‘safe space’ to explore the significance and meaning of ‘safety’ in their lives. Using their accounts, we distinguish between safe from and safe to, demonstrating that once women are safe from harassment, abuse and misogyny, they feel safe to be cognitively, intellectually and emotionally expressive. We argue that this sense of being ‘safe to’ denotes fundamental aspects of civic engagement, personhood and freedom.

Beyond ‘Token’ Firefighters: Exploring Women’s Experiences of Gender and Identity at Work

Tamika Perrott
Sociological Research Online 21 (1) 4

Keywords: Work, Tokenism, Gender, Identity, Firefighting, Women
Abstract: Despite the increasing percentage of women entering masculinized workplaces, certain organizations consistently see little change in the gender makeup of their staff. Contemporary scholarship suggests that women in rigidly gendered organizations are often assigned a token status and are victimized due to their gender. This study relocates the conversations of women as tokens towards a fresh conversation of women’s agency in masculinized workplaces. This paper uses ten qualitative interviews and ethnographic fieldwork to discuss how female firefighters navigate their gender at work. This article draws on reflexive accounts of everyday gendered negotiations to look at how the female firefighters ‘do gender’ within a specific fire service in Australia. I argue that emergency services, such as firefighting, create a contradictory field where women are located in (1) a paradoxical environment where the ‘female body’ is problematized (2) a work environment where they have to repeatedly prove their cultural competence in order to confirm their professional identity. The findings suggest that while female firefighters do have agency, tokenism locates many of them in a ‘never quite there’ bind that challenges their ability to progress into leadership roles within the service. This article concludes that the nuanced difference between, and at times, within the women’s narratives problematizes the bounds of personal agency and cultural change. This consequently results in resistance to policies by some women that may benefit like-situated women, such as affirmative action.

At the Crossroads: The Embedding Work of Market Participants in and Around Markets

Stefan Bernhard
Sociological Research Online 21 (2) 7

Keywords: Sociology of Markets, New Economic Sociology, Harrison C. White, Qualitative Methods, Self-Employment, Embeddedness
Abstract: Market participants stand at the intersection of at least two perennial contexts: their target market and their experience in other social spheres. A question remains regarding how market participants manage this position at the crossroads and how it affects their market activities. Thus far, market sociology has paid scant attention to these issues. To more closely investigate the enmeshment of market participants in multiple contexts, this article introduces the concept of embedding work and applies it to self-employed market participants, who engage in embedding work in two directions: They establish equivalences to target markets and biographic experiences, and at the same time, they draw distinctions from these contexts. Case studies of nascent entrepreneurs in Germany illustrate how embedding work impacts the choice of target markets and the maneuvering within these markets. The article contributes to market sociology by dealing with the embedding of markets in other social contexts as mediated by market participants.

Transnational Social Mobility Strategies and Quality of Work Among Latin-American Women Sex Workers in Spain

Laura Oso
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 11

Keywords: Sex Work, Prostitution, Gender, Migration, Quality of Work, Latin-American Women, Transnational
Abstract: The aim of this article is to analyse the quality of work of two of the main types of female sex work in Spain (clubs and in-call flats). In order to do so I will focus on the following working dimensions: wages, power relations, skills, alienation, health, violence, work life and stigma. Firstly, the article seeks to highlight the structural factors that condition the quality of work of Latin American female sex workers in Spain. These factors are closely connected to policies regarding migration and sex work, which foment irregular work arrangements (undocumented migrants and informal workers). Secondly, I analyse entry formats (indebted or autonomous migration) and how they impact on working conditions. Thirdly, the article considers the migrant women’s work choices and the resulting living and working conditions they may encounter. I intend to show that Latin American women sex workers in Spain might opt for a certain type of work within the context of strategic decisions, as linked to their migratory and social mobility projects. These decisions have a family and a transnational scope (country of origin, country of destination). The analysis presented is based on qualitative fieldwork (semi-structured interviews) carried out in Galicia (north-west Spain).

Negotiating Constructions of Insider and Outsider Status in Research with Veiled Muslim Women Victims of Islamophobic Hate Crime

Irene Zempi
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 8

Keywords: Insider/outsider, Qualitative Research, Critical Reflexivity, Veiled Muslim Women, Islamophobic Hate Crime
Abstract: This article presents a reflexive discussion of insider and outsider positions in a qualitative study researching Islamophobic hate crime with Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil) in public in the United Kingdom (UK). As a non-Muslim woman, some aspects of my identity can be linked to insider positions while other aspects of my identity can be linked to outsider positions, with implications for the documentation of participants’ lived experiences. Within the framework of ‘critical reflexivity’, this article considers the impact of my insider/outsider status at each stage of the research process, from deciding on the research topic, the research design, accessing participants through to data collection and analysis. This article re-articulates the importance of researcher reflexivity, particularly when both researchers and participants exhibit multiculturality (for example, in the context of having multicultural backgrounds), which has become more common in the globalised world. It will be concluded that engaging in critical reflexivity is important for producing reliable and ethical research as it enables researchers to be aware of their position in the ‘space between’ and be transparent how their positionality impacts on the entire research process.