Feminism, Foucault, and Freire: A Dynamic Approach to Sociocultural Research

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Qualitative researchers with a critical sociocultural orientation tend to approach their research as an ethical and political endeavor as well as an intellectual project. Working from the claim that knowledge and power go together, many deliberately mobilize their research to spotlight inequalities and to support social transformation as well as to produce “data.” Within psychology, much qualitative scholarship of this kind is interview or focus group-based and designed to yield a flow of information from participants to researcher. When our work pinpoints patterns of inequality that appear to participants to be freely chosen, deserved, or inevitable (or that escape their notice altogether), however, how else might we proceed? In this article, we introduce a dynamic sociocultural research methodology we developed to investigate but also, potentially, to diversify participants’ savoir regarding, feminism, sexism, and gendered inequalities. We begin by explaining the theoretical basis of the approach, detailing how it combines elements of Freirean praxis together with critical feminist and Foucauldian scholarship. From here, we describe how we translated the methodological framework into a two-part research project investigating gender, sexism, and feminism with young people, whereby problem-posing group workshops created a dynamic analytical and political context for the individual interviews that followed. We conclude with some reflections on the analytic and ethico-political potential of dynamic sociocultural research and some key considerations for researchers.

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