Blog for Socy 676

Evaluating the Method

Content Analysis

Keeping It in “the Family”: How Gender Norms Shape U.S. Marriage Migration Politics

By Gina Marie Longo

Summary

In this research study, the researcher is trying “to investigate how petitioners interpret and deploy gendered relationship criteria to claim legitimacy under U.S. immigration policies.” She also investigated the differences in reasonings and problems citizens face when marrying a foreigner based on their sexuality. To find data, she analyzed conversation threads from two of Immigration Pathway’s regional forums: the Middle East/North African (MENA) forum and the Belarus/Russia/Ukraine (BRU) forum. She used an analytic process called constructivist grounded theory to incorporate members’ stories into the analysis to determine the “what, how, and why” of their evaluations. She looked at what were looked at as “red flags” by petitioners on these forum threads. She used a script written in Python to collect, clean and conduct a key-word search for the term “red flag” on the conversation threads from 2008 to 2014 across 13 regional forums. She analyzed discussions on the forums to show how short courtships, age differences, sending money and seeking romance became red flags based on gender while being considered for signs of marriage fraud. She hypothesized that men and women petitioners would conceptualize red flags and genuineness differently and the women’s sexual and family behavior would be more scrutinized by both men and women. She found that women’s sexuality and gender differentially structure the process of negotiating red flags for men and women petitioners and the right to confer citizenship and provides sexual privileges to men citizens and causes women citizens to be looked down upon. She also found that forum members agree that to have a genuine relationship, women petitioners must be fertile and reproductive and that aging women cannot achieve legitimacy since they are past the reproductive prime while men’s sexuality is not tied to their reproductive capacity. The researcher argues that the online forum allows petitioners essentially to become border patrollers even before their cases reach actual immigration authorities through their interpersonal interactions and states that the study demonstrates the need to place more theoretical focus on how virtual spaces are consequential for re-imaging intersectional gendered citizenship and the policing of national identities and borders. She also mentions how male and female citizens look to marry outside of the U.S. due to the fact that they believe the members of the opposite sex in the West have lost the traditional family values they desire.

Content Analysis

The researcher in this study is coding the number of red flag threads throughout the regional forums that she studied. She also coded the percentage of posts by female posters and the percentage of posts by male posters as well as the percentage of posts by posters who did not identify their gender. I believe she used an inductive methodological approach based on the fact that she was trying to find the theory of the data.

Strengths and Weaknesses?

Strengths:

The data was relatively easy to obtain and inexpensive since it was all accessible online. It provided a quantitative analysis of data which would be easy to repeat. The method was unobtrusive and ethical as it didn’t involve the researcher to interact with any of the people being studied and since the posters used pseudonyms, they are not able to be identified.

Weaknesses:

I’m sure the data collection was time consuming and may not give an actual look at the people’s lives being studied, meaning the posts were just brief moments into these people’s lives and may not give a full description of their relationships.

I think the researcher captured what issues petitioners face when trying to interpret gendered relationship criteria well by looking for the red flag posts well. If I were to conduct the study I might have looked at the number of red flagged marriages that were fraudulent and compared them to the number that were flagged that were actually genuine to see how the petitioners were affecting genuine relationships.

Speaking ‘Unspeakable Things’: Documenting Digital Feminist Responses to Rape Culture

By Jessalynn Keller, Kaitlynn Mendes and Jessica Ringrose

Summary:

The researchers in this study explore a topic talked about in the 2014 book, Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies, and Revolution by journalist Laurie Penny. The “paper examines the ways in which girls and women are using digital media platforms to challenge…street harassment, sexual assault and the policing of the body and clothing in school settings.” It explores the affective experiences of girls and women posting and consuming digital feminist activism on social media. They ask what experiences of harassment, misogyny and rape culture are girls and women responding to? How are girls and women using digital media technologies to document experiences of sexual violence, harassment and sexism? And, why are girls and women choosing to mobilize digital media technologies in such a way? They get their data by conducting interviews, employing content analysis of digital media and textual analysis searching for the keywords: feminism; activism; affect; twitter; rape culture.

They argue that both feminism and misogyny are becoming increasingly visible in our culture and that teenage girls are becoming feminist activists online and in their schools while overt sexism appears to have become simultaneously visible across online and offline spaces. They also argue that the “plague” of misogyny, the abuse of women and rape culture has manifested itself as a “normative reaction” in our culture through digital media spaces. The researchers “aim to contribute to the use of a more diverse set of theoretical tools to investigate digital culture” and “draw on an emerging body of work that uses theories to affect to examine digital life in ways that moves beyond the media texts to explore digital media practices and publics.” They also question the validity of digital media to produce the “real” change of protest politics, suggesting that the mediated voices function as protest to rape culture.

They found that “not only is feminist activism now more visible with media culture,” but they “have demonstrated the affective nature of new forms of sharing, connection and solidarity previously impossible through speaking about experiences of rape culture. They also found that the “radical potential of digital culture to reanimate feminist politics online and off” needs to explored further.

Content Analysis:

They are coding for:

  1. Posts to the online anti-street harassment website Hollaback!
  2. Experiences of using the Twitter hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported.
  3. Teen feminists’ use of social media platforms to challenge rape culture in and around schools.

They used a discursive textual analysis to explore the forms of connectivity and sharing enables through speaking about rape culture via digital platforms.

I believe their approach to be inductive based on the fact that they examined specific uses of social media and hashtags to come to a generalized conclusion of how women are using different media platforms.

Strengths and weaknesses:

Strengths:

The data was relatively easy to obtain and inexpensive since it was all accessible online. It provided a look at different media and how women are using tools such as hashtags to answer the questions proposed by the researchers. The method was unobtrusive and ethical as it didn’t involve the researcher to interact with any of the people being studied and since the posters used pseudonyms, they are not able to be identified.

Weaknesses:

The researchers only looked at three different methods that women were using the internet to speak about rape culture and harassment. I feel like there is a vast amount of data that could have been collected. Also, I’m sure the data was time consuming to collect.

I think they missed out on data they could have collected from many other more popular social media platforms. They also didn’t mention anything about the #metoo movement which sparked a revolution with women coming out online about being harassed and raped.

3 Comments

  1. meyersbcc

    I agree with your comments in the strengths and weaknesses section, you make valid points regarding the benefits- the relative ease of obtaining data and the monetary cost savings, but also pointed out several key disadvantages, both the time it takes to obtain that data and how the data may be one dimensional in a very dynamic environment- this being relationships. I agree, it would be interesting to compare results of the relationships that have been red-flagged, determining which would be considered fraudulent vs. legitimate- good point. For your second article I have similar comments- you did a great job of pointing out both significant strengths and weaknesses- which is an important skill in critiquing research. You mention in both articles the benefit of cost savings and time savings- both huge advantages to doing digital research. I like your mention of the limited scope of resources to do the research- perhaps expanded on the number of resources may give a better representation of how people speak about and experience sexual harassment and rape culture.

  2. Alice Quach

    Hi Eric,

    You wrote a really great summary of both studies. I agree with the strengths and weaknesses that you mentioned. It’s also important that you mentioned the hashtag #metoo wasn’t analyzed in the second study. That would be interesting to look at, as it might provide a more comprehensive understanding of how women use social media to challenge sexual assault, harassment, rape culture, etc.

    Best,
    Alice

  3. janniep

    Hi Eric, great post! I also included analyzing the Me Too movement on Twitter as something I would do for the Speaking ‘unspeakable things’: documenting
    digital feminist responses to rape culture study. They did not mention the movement because their study was published in 2016, while the Me Too movement did not gain public traction until 2017, although the movement had started in 2006 originally by sexual harassment survivor and activist Tarana Burke.

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