Making Method in Girlhood Studies

in Girlhood Studies

This is the first issue of Girlhood Studies that we have devoted primarily to method and methodology related to deepening an understanding of girlhood and girls’ lives. From the very inception of the journal in 2008 we imagined that there would be themed issues devoted to what we have termed “girl-method” (Mitchell and Reid-Walsh 2009: 214), so as to explore the various approaches to studying girlhood, and especially to make explicit the positionality of feminist researchers writing in academic contexts about girlhood. We frame this project as one that aims to be productive and generative and able to take its place alongside transformative themes in feminist methodology, as we see, for example, in the work of Burt and Code (1995) Changing Methods: Feminists Transforming Practice, and Creese and Frisby (2011) Feminist Community Research. However, even though there has been a rich body of work and a long history of research that addresses the nuances of women researching women, particularly in the area of the autobiographical such as, for example, Ann Oakley’s (1981) ground breaking article “Interviewing women: A contradiction in terms,” there remain gaps in feminist discourse that concerns itself with a framework to name and explicate method work that seeks to address working with girls, for girls and about girlhood. Making method, then, seems to us to be a useful framing term to talk about methodology and method in the area of girlhood studies. In one sense the term can signal the idea of making in relation to becoming as a feature of the social constructions of girlhood and the highly contextualized question of “Who is a girl anyway?” It also picks up on the idea of claiming and creating an identity as we see in Gerry Bloustien’s (2004) notion of girl-making in her work with adolescent girls and video-making. But it also speaks to the need for alternative approaches to making meaning, and so, as feminist researchers working in this area, we may find ourselves making it up, in much the same way that Oakley and others have done, and, in so doing, acknowledging the limitations of more conventional forms of working with qualitative data in social research.

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