Feminist Methods in Social Research

Thursday, May 27th, 2010, 00:43 WIB
Feminist Methods in Social Research

Author              : Shulamit Reinharz

Year                 : 1992

Publication        : Oxford University Press

City                  : New York

Shulamit Reinharz is a professor in Women's Studies Program at Brandeis, Massachusetts, United States. She has attention in the development community in Jewish women's studies. Some of the books which are produced by Reinharz focus on feminist research such qualitative and qualitative methods and Jewish women.


In this book which is the second work of Reinharz, she outlines about feminist methods. There are about ten methods in this book which are the feminist interview research, ethnography, survey research and other statistical formats research, experimental research, cross-cultural research, oral history, content analysis, case studies, action research, and multiple methods research. All these methods are applied with a feminist approach.

Why a research using feminist approach is important? Joey Sprague (2005) in her book, Feminist Methodologies for Critical Researchers, argues that there are some reasons to take feminism as an approach of study. Firstly, in academic sphere, feminism has been excluded or marginalized for long times. Many of academic areas, for instance in the field of philosophy, used to be the study area more specific for men than for women. Secondly, for quite long time, feminists did researches using many various approaches. But by applying feminist approach in particular, feminists can do more specific exploration of the issues of feminism, and they will therefore be able to stand for feminist position. Another thing is that feminist approach encourages many important related areas such as economics, politics, culture, law and religion. However, gender is of course the first one, and it indeed links to many entities of social life such as race, ethnicity, class, and nation. Moreover, feminist approach can guide us to have more just understanding that there is something unbalanced in our social life, and also feminist approach attempts to lift up these issues at surface, and makes the social life more equitable.

In each chapter, Reinharz is not only explaining how to use the method but also describing the definition and history of these methods. Reinharz also addresses the dilemma that emerges among the feminists when using a method.

One of my favorite chapters is feminist ethnography method. I think that this method can give more opportunity for women to be listened their voices. Reinharz describes ethnography or fieldwork is a multimethod research since this research combines observation, participation, archival analysis, and interview. Observation will give opportunity for researchers to see the real life of women.

There are three important goals of the feminist Ethnography: to document women's lives and activities; to know the experiences of women from a female point of view; to conceptualize women's behavior as an expression of social contexts. Indeed,

Feminist methods basically are bringing a woman's voice as the focus of the research. In fact, the woman's voice is never taken into account in academic sphere. Feminist approach which can be said part of post-modernism movement brings to the surface of the minority vote.This book provides a complete explanation of the methods in social research for feminists. This book could be a handbook for the feminists when they will do a research although the focus of this book is only in white women society or in another word still American oriented. Reinharz did not touch or take the examples from Asian women community. For sure the condition of women in different countries will make different too in the ways to do research even though the basic problems of gender issues are not quite similar.  (Ninik)