This weeks post will be outlining the methodology of autoethnography and its relevancy to my research on Reddit, women and anime.
‘Women should represent women in media’, Megan Kamerick 2011
Researchers are often caught in a tug-of-war between objective and subjective approaches. Quantitative data – numbers and statistics – is considered to be more stable than its qualitative counterpart – interviews and focus groups. One side is labelled scientific, the other considerate (British Library 2014). Both are true, yet both are not. It is unproductive to argue either side in terms of truth-telling. Instead, it is appropriate to consider them in terms of the research you are conducting.
My research will be considering the experiences of women, the illustration of women in anime, and the construction and treatment of women on Reddit. It would not suffice to say women are mentioned so many times, or this many users reference women in this specific way. The experience of every woman is unique and personal, just as every post and illustration is different.
The methodology of autoethnography provides a unique approach to research, which is fitting for such unique experiences. Autoethnography will allow me to reflect upon my personal experience within the anime boards of Reddit. It will allow me to vividly convey the way women are treated, filling the hole in academic research that Jane noted (2014). It is not apt to clinically approach this subject matter as this would diminish the accuracy and integrity of the research. Afterall, as Kamerick noted “How do you tell a woman’s story? You ask her to tell it” (2011).
But of course it is not enough to simply recount personal experiences. While I am not advocating the use of numbers and statistics, the research needs to be grounded in academic thought and theories. This will enable me to step out of the experience, and to reflect and draw conclusions from it. As Ellis et al. describes, autoethnography provides the opportunity to use hindsight to construct research based on personal experience, but grounded in academic theory (2011).
Like any research methodology, there is criticism of the autoethnography approach. Mostly, its validity is questioned due to its reflection on the author and its lack of hard facts. In terms of my own research, I believe its lack of hard facts will benefit the overall result. Traffic stats or content analysis will do little to convey the true nature of these boards. And as for the reflection of the author, who better to tell the story of women than a woman.
British Library 2014, ‘Qualitative and Quantitative Research’, viewed 24/9/14, <http://www.bl.uk/bipc/resmark/qualquantresearch/qualquantresearch.html>
Ellis, C, Adams T E &Bochner, A P 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1, viewed 24/9/14, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095#g4>
Jane, E A 2014, ‘Back to the kitchen, cunt’: speaking the unspeakable about online misogyny’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 558 – 570
Kamerick, M 2011, ‘Women should represent women in media’, Ted Talk, September, viewed 24/9/14, <http://www.ted.com/talks/megan_kamerick_women_should_represent_women_in_media>