I am grateful for many experiences and environments in my life, including the ethnic influence of my father, that allowed me to experience different cultures and be open with others that were different from my bicultural identity. This influence, in many ways, brought me here to a place where I am curious about everything, with a growing sensitivity that forces me to be aware of cultural erasures, fighting for the under- and unrepresented by any means at my disposal. At this point, by any means implies learning tools that allow me to help people help themselves and learn skills that allow them to empower themselves more effectively. Those tools include my research within the unintentional propaganda of media with sexist themes that influences interpersonal relationships and small groups of young Black American women and girls.
Critical for me throughout the readings and throughout my research is “checking myself” in common feminist discourse where others not affected by institutionalized racism and sexism insert themselves into discussions as if they (in this case, I) are experts on being oppressed. I constantly check myself in the same way I would question others to make certain that isn’t what is happening as I critically analyze a variety of content and literature. It also helps that I have colleagues near that can speak to this oppression from experience and help me understand their lived experiences, explain it to me, and check me if I am incorrect. At the same time, they value my opinion and my critical analysis of ideas and events from a perspective different than theirs. The readings in Creswell (2014) and Locke, et al (2010) reinforced this idea with critical analysis, and until much of this becomes second nature, both sources provide valuable checklists to analyze such reports, articles, and research.
Hays (2007) speaks to these challenges. I can state emphatically that there are many ways to participate in politics that have nothing to do with voting, but I will have to define what that means and what it includes. Here, a distinction is made between civic engagement and political participation, seeking commonalities and distinctive characteristics, but nowhere does the author operationalize these concepts into definitions, especially when both can be viewed through several different lenses. The author describes characteristics of civic society and political engagement but no concrete definition is provided. Further, there is no mention or consideration of movements that, if operationalized properly, would include actions of disruption to effect change, including general strikes, “Occupys” and other activities that predate this article by at least 100 years or more in the form of Anarchist activities. The article seems to only consider overt actions by specific members of society but not all members of society.
However, since Hays (2007) does not address these issues, they can be explored in later research because the case study here is limited to exploring two previous studies that also excluded actions of disruption. Instead, the case study explores the behavioral boundaries between political and civic engagement through open-ended questions within in-depth in person interviews. Activities were classified into three categories, political, civic, and social. Here, I question the bias of the researcher(s); given the limited classifications included that may have been written into the open-ended questions and reveals bias. Though limiting the study to a clarification of earlier studies, I see a distinctive bias nonetheless. Community activities are limited to social service and general community improvement which does not seem to include activism designed to question and overcome injustices, but reinforcing the status quo in every aspect of social, political, and civic life. While the author admits that the participants perceive a boundary between voluntary, civic, and [traditional] political participation, one can posit that the researcher(s) and author did not query any additional types of activities of the participants. This I find flawed on a few levels and it reveals a bias that Hays (2007) may not have considered.
I believe that a case study could be constructed around my research question without much alteration, thus, “How are black teen girls’ and women’s unintentional propaganda within social media postings about cultural artifacts (e.g., clothing, music, fashion) effected by mass media that uses sexist themes and may be defined as propaganda of one form or another?” However, while I believe, based on Hays (2007), a case study is limited, elements of one could be incorporated early, along with preliminary surveys to gauge the direction of research if time and funding allowed for a long term commitment to a study such as one exploring unintentional propaganda. The challenge would be to find a funding source with or without altering the “offensive” terminology referring to media as propaganda.
Creswell, J. W. (2014). Qualititative Methods. In Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4th ed., pp. 167-182). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Hays, R. A. (2007). Community activists’ perceptions of citizenship roles in an urban community: A case study of attitudes that affect community engagement. Journal of Urban Affairs, 29(4), 401-424.
Locke, L. F., Silverman, S. J., & Spirduso, W. W. (2010). Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9. In Reading and understanding research (3rd ed., pp. 158-279). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.