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207 Appendix A Research Methods and Demographics of the Women Feminist Research Feminist research methods, as specified by Sandra Harding and Shulamit Reinharz (along with other proponents of these techniques), support a common research paradigm.1 These methods support the idea that, historically, women have been ignored as both research participants and effective researchers.2 Evelyn Fox Keller argues that science became associated with masculinity and domination.3 Francesca M. Cancian asserts that the use of traditional, positivist research methods promotes inequality for women and other marginalized groups. She concludes that the hypotheses and findings of social researchers who are mainly White, upper-middle-class men frequently represent the viewpoints of “elite” groups of managers, businesses, and government agencies. Therefore, Cancian encourages and supports the use of a feminist method of research not only to obtain and interpret data from a different view but also to empower women and other marginalized individuals.4 Along these lines, the social world has been viewed by these challengers to mainstream traditional social research as being interpreted through a “male voice and gaze,” which also equates masculinity with objectivity and femininity with subjectivity.5 Typically, subjectivity in science has been, and in many instances still is, deemed unreliable. Therefore, any “feminine traits” of subjectivity in research have historically been avoided. Keller further argues that gender and science are socially constructed and, therefore, change through time.6 Harding also supported this socially constructed view, agreeing that all societies are transitional and suggesting that being bound by one epistemology tends to suppress newly emerging ones.7 Accordingly, it 208 Appendix A is these social constructions that must be examined in relation to their effect on findings in sociological research. Fundamentally, “[f]eminist research is guided by feminist theory,”8 whose focus is generally on women (that is, bringing their experiences to the forefront with those of men). But some feminist researchers maintain that the study of women also enhances our understanding of the male experience, though perhaps from a different perspective. This method seeks to understand how gender is related to social inequalities and conflict .9 Although the discipline is referred to as “feminist research methods ,” Reinharz asserts that feminist research is a perspective on an existing method, not a research method in itself.10 In essence, Patricia Hill Collins’s concept of Black feminist epistemology supports the qualitative research technique of ethnography and expands on the feminist research perspective. Collins’s work was helpful to my investigation because it provides additional epistemological and methodological considerations specific to Black women’s issues. Collins’s approach assists in understanding and validating the Truth of Black women’s experiences and stories. She asserts that traditional epistemologies are laden with the vested interests of elite White men, resulting in the misrepresentation or exclusion of Black women’s experiences as “knowledge.” According to Collins, this Black feminist epistemology involves four points: (1) the lived experience of Black women is central to understanding knowledge; (2) dialogue is an important factor in evaluating new knowledge claims; (3) individuality, emotions, and empathy as components in the “ethics of caring” is useful in validating knowledge; and (4) individuals are held accountable for their knowledge claims. “[W]hen these four dimensions become politicized and attached to a social justice project, they can form a framework for Black feminist thought and practice.”11 The Research Setting For three interrelated reasons, I found that the Denver metro area was the ideal research site of choice for locating participants for this study. Although the Black population in the state of Colorado—3.8 percent of the state’s approximately 4.3 million citizens—is not equal to Blacks’ 12.3 percent overall share of the U.S. population, approximately 11 percent of the city of Denver’s population of 554,636 is Black.12 In addition, Aurora, a mid-size city adjacent to Denver, boasts a Black population of 13 percent of Appendix A 209 its 276,393 residents. As such, the Black population of the Denver metro area was fairly representative of the national Black population. I also chose the Denver area because of my proximity to the research setting and because I had limited monetary resources to fund this project. The possibility of going to cities where there is a larger Black population, thus giving me a larger pool of participants to choose from, was severely restricted. Last, because I am a Black woman who was born and reared in a Denver neighborhood with a significant...


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