Reflections on Qualitative Research and Bailey, Steeves, Regan’s Negotiating With Gender Stereotypes on Social Networking Sites; McFerran, Dahl, Fitzsimons, Morales’ I’ll Have What She’s Having: Effects of Social Influence and Body Type on the Food Choices of Others, and ter Bogt, Engels, and Kloosterman’s “Shake It Baby, Shake It”: Media Preferences, Sexual Attitudes and Gender Stereotypes Among Adolescents

I’ve contemplated a research topic for a few years, and even mentioned it to new friends at Saybrook as well as family and friends outside of academia because the subject of gender and racism propaganda is a subject that is at once fascinating and deeply disturbing to me, though I don’t think I can combine a question and human subjects that allow for research analysis of both gender and racism propaganda unless I specify the participants of the study to women and girls of color.  Given that I would like to create it as a participation action research study, this is within the realm of possibility.  However, I have not yet formulated a question that is definitive in this area.  For our purposes, the research question that I am interested in is, “What are the short and long-term effects of organized and unintentional interpersonal propaganda upon women and girls of color in the black community? This is a good start but it still needs some refinement.

The subjects of the academic articles I selected relate directly to my research interest, though the authors do not make use of “propaganda” as a working term within their studies, but it is used there as an influence upon the subjects as “proper” vs “improper” behavior to police women and girls to avoid the use of extreme forms of gender propaganda. ter Bogt, et al (2010) and McFerran, et al (2010) are quantitative and Bailey, et al (2013) are qualitative.

Because comprehension of statistics is not yet within my grasp, the key elements I noted to gain understanding of the studies include the abstract, the study question(s), methods, and discussions.  While, the ter Bogt, et al (2010) study took place in the Netherlands, and there are some cultural differences between the US and the Netherlands, much media propaganda that is pervasive here is being imported to Europe from the United States and this study explores that media on Netherlander youth.  The study concludes with the need of additional studies of the effects of popular media upon pre-teen and teen youth.  From previous discussions with professors, I learned that the discussion and methods section are the heart of academic articles so I concentrated there.  I won’t indicate any definitive conclusions, here, because there were multiple variables, questions and conclusions depending upon the research question. Some results indicated that certain musical genres and internet activity indicated differences in gender stereotypes, and in some cases, a lessening of stereotypes.

In McFerran, et al (2010), the sample participant pool was much smaller, and thus, easier to understand.  While this study doesn’t directly relate to intentional gender propaganda (in language), with its emphasis on the analysis of peripheral Western beauty standards, it relates directly to social influence in women and girls.  It may be of secondary importance but it is key.  In this case, the study detailed the direct influence of eating choices upon participants when in the presence of perceived healthy and unhealthy food and a dependent variable (a study confederate, perceive as either thin/healthy and overweight/unhealthy).

In Bailey, et al (2013), the study is an analysis of historical and current contemporary accounts (The introduction of the bicycle in 1895 and social networks more than a century later.) of policing women and girls’ current gender norms that in every case are impossible to conform to when they are controlled by a patriarchy that feels the need to change the rules whenever they are unsatisfied (my opinion but feminist critique supports this). The current study supports this, especially in the study results and discussion where Facebook participants conform to patriarchal Western beauty and intelligence standards.

The results of all of this research for me are mixed, but I do know that I have much to learn in order to understand such academic work more deeply.  I also know that I would like to write for a wider audience that can understand what I am researching without having to have an advance degree.

 

Sources:

 

Bailey, J., Steeves, V., Burkell, J., & Regan, P. (2013). Negotiating With Gender Stereotypes on Social Networking Sites: From “Bicycle Face” to Facebook. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 37(2), 91–112. http://doi.org/10.1177/0196859912473777

McFerran, B., Dahl, D. W., Fitzsimons, G. J., & Morales, A. C. (2010). I’ll Have What She’s Having: Effects of Social Influence and Body Type on the Food Choices of Others, 36(6), 915–929. http://doi.org/10.1086/644611

ter Bogt, T. F. M., Engels, R. C. M. E., Bogers, S., & Kloosterman, M. (2010). “Shake It Baby, Shake It”: Media Preferences, Sexual Attitudes and Gender Stereotypes Among Adolescents. Sex Roles, 63(11–12), 844–859. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9815-1

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