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Title: Embodying gender, age, ethnicity and power in ‘the field’: Reflections on dress and the presentation of the self in research with older Pakistani Muslims
Authors: Zubair, M
Martin, W
Victor, C
Keywords: Age;Ethnicity;Gender;Power;Body;Dress;Fieldwork;Identity;Researcher;Reflexivity
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Universities of Surrey and Stirling, the British Sociological Association and SAGE Publications Ltd
Citation: Sociological Research Online, 17(3): Article no. 21, 2012
Abstract: In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in researching people growing older in the South Asian ethnic minority communities in the UK. However, these populations have received comparatively little attention in wide-ranging discussions on culturally and socially appropriate research methodologies. In this paper, we draw on the experiences of a young female Pakistani Muslim researcher researching older Pakistani Muslim women and men, to explore the significance of gender, age and ethnicity to fieldwork processes and 'field' relationships. In particular, we highlight the significance of dress and specific presentations of the embodied self within the research process. We do so by focusing upon three key issues: (1) Insider/Outsider boundaries and how these boundaries are continuously and actively negotiated in the field through the use of dress and specific presentations of the embodied 'self'; (2) The links between gender, age and space - more specifically, how the researcher's use of traditional Pakistani dress, and her differing research relationships, are influenced by the older Pakistani Muslim participants' gendered use of public and private space; and (3) The opportunities and vulnerabilities experienced by the researcher in the field, reinforced by her use (or otherwise) of the traditional and feminine Pakistani Muslim dress. Our research therefore highlights the role of different presentations of the embodied 'self' to fieldwork processes and relationships, and illustrates how age, gender and status intersect to produce fluctuating insider/outsider boundaries as well as different opportunities and experiences of power and vulnerability within research relationships.
Description: This article is available open access through the publisher’s website at the link below. Copyright @ 2012 Sociological Research Online.
ISSN: 1360-7804
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