Fieldwork

18Feb10

Although I’ve been doing a few interviews in dribs and drabs since November, I am only just really getting stuck into the fieldwork section of my research. This means that I’ve kind of stopped reading books and theories, writing preliminary papers etc., and have started to talk to people. I’ve already met some incredibly interesting (and kind and lovely!) people and gained many different perspectives on people’s experience of blogging. Thank you to all of those people who’ve shared their stories with me!

Last year I was wondering about, I guess, the partial nature of research online – you click on the links that interest you, and it’s no different if you’re a researcher, even if you’re subscribed to everything. I did a case study on the Triple J Hottest 100 debate from last year because it’s something I feel passionate about, and the activism that came out of that debate was remarkable, particularly the @Hottest100Women twitter vote. The same often goes for posts around issues of disability, discussions about race and racism in Australia, home birth-related or feminist motherhood related posts and blogs, some pop culture stuff more than others, and issues around fat acceptance. These are things that I will always click on and follow, because of my own interests in these things. Research is often partial, and the recognition of that is integral to feminist standpoint theory – but so is the centreing of women’s experience and women’s points of view (as opposed to my point of view!). So in my attempt to overcome a skewed vision of the community I used network analysis, a supposedly objective mapping of the community as it’s constructed through links and so forth, but this can only go so far.

In talking to women with blogs, I’ve realised two things; first – that everyone’s experience and understanding of the feminist blogosphere is different – for example, some people have come from a starting point of reading big US feminist blogs, and finding Australian blogs from there, while others remain largely uninterested in blogs outside the specifically Australian feminist blogosphere. Others don’t read a lot of other blogs at all. So answers to questions about whether the Australian feminist blogosphere exists as an entity become highly subjective. Secondly, that the blogs and discussions that have caught my eye and seemed most significant and discourse-challenging to me are also the posts that people repeatedly bring up as examples of important moments in the community for them. Which makes me hopeful that my reading of the community is not quite as skewed as I thought it might be.

I’m excited and nervous about the next part of my fieldwork, listening to bloggers all over Australia talk about their personal experience of both blogging and feminism. Although I have a basic theoretical framework worked out, so much of what my thesis will say will come from these interviews and what people tell me about what blogging means for them (which of course is part of that methodology and theory).  So this where it really begins!

I’m also helping my supervisor to re-write a chapter for publication in a new edition of an edited collection. Which is difficult because I’m not really in a writing frame of mind, more of a listening/gathering ideas frame of mind. So I’m having some trouble with that, but trying to get it at least partly done before I head off around Australia next Wednesday.

Just moved house the weekend before last, so that’s also been disruptive (and expensive). In late March my partner and good friend / flatmate are taking me to the USA, a trip we’ve been planning for about a year now. Of course it comes at terrifyingly bad timing, but if I can get a lot of things done before we go then I can relax and enjoy myself.

I also wanted to write, at some point, about how much reading feminist blogs has changed my identity and my feminism, but that will have to wait for next time.

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