Reconceptualising research using an insider activist approach to seek social transformations around issues of gender

PhD Thesis


Lennon, Sherilyn. 2012. Reconceptualising research using an insider activist approach to seek social transformations around issues of gender. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

Reconceptualising research using an insider activist approach to seek social transformations around issues of gender

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorLennon, Sherilyn
SupervisorHenderson, Robyn
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages325
Year2012
Abstract

This study investigates what can be learned from the journey of an insider activist researcher seeking social transformations around issues of gender in an isolated
rural Australian community. The analytic component of the research couples an ongoing process of coming-to-know with a need to address a community issue. Thus, whilst initially inspired by the researcher’s desire to understand and address boys’ schooling underperformances, the study has evolved to become a multifocused and multi-purposed research act. Specifically the study builds links
between school-based performances and community constructions of gender; pursues a transformative agenda; and reconceptualises the boundaries of qualitative research and the role of the researcher.

Conceptualised as a study of human complexity, it makes use of bricolage to merge and extend feminist, poststructuralist, critical, and cultural understandings
of hegemonic masculinity and research/er positionality. It deepens understandings of the multiple ways that individuals perform their gendered lives, publically critiques hegemonic masculinity, and documents and problematises the pitfalls and potential of insider activist work and its capacity for transcending power asymmetries.

The researcher draws on case study traditions (Merriam, 1998), Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 1989, 1995, 2003; Wodak, 2002a, 2002b), reflexive dyadic
interviewing techniques (Kincheloe & Berry, 2004), critical ethnography (Foley & Valenzuela, 2005) and autoethnography to mine and analyse sources of evidence purposefully collected from the local newspaper, online forums, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, local school reports, and the lived experiences of community members past and present. The research is also informed by aspects of radical
(Giroux, 2001, 2003) and public pedagogy (Ayers, 2010; Hill, 2010; O’Malley & Roseboro, 2010). This lead the researcher to publish a letter in the local newspaper problematising, what she considers to be, a phallocentric discourse of white male entitlement being perpetuated by a revered local icon. The community dialogue triggered by her interventionist act is documented and analysed for its
transformative potential.

The study exposes links between hegemonic masculinity and the subjugation of females, homophobia, femiphobia, poor schooling performances, anti-social practices, and high-risk behaviours. By developing a conceptual framework and a process for disclosing and dislocating ideological hegemony and its associated power imbalances, the research adds to knowledge in the fields of gender and education, social justice, and nascent activist pedagogies.

Keywordsgender; issues; social transformations; Australia
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020440599. Gender studies not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Education
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