Looking at Fieldwork Experiences Within a Masculinities Framework

This month we published Masculinities in the Field edited by Brooke A. Porter, Heike A. Schänzel and Joseph M. Cheer. In this post Brooke talks about the process of putting the book together.

In 2018, with the help of many invaluable contributors we created the co-edited volume, Femininities in the Field. For Heike and me, it was a much-needed contribution to the discipline as well as a cathartic space to voice previously overlooked, gendered experiences. For many it was a welcome piece and for some it became a necessary tool for fieldwork. Albeit far from comprehensive of feminine experiences, Femininities in the Field took a critical look at the role of gender in fieldwork and tourism studies. It wasn’t long after its initial publication that the idea of grounding the feminine in the masculine was considered. Philosophically, we tend to consider the ideas, concepts and things in terms of polarity or opposition. Thus, to accurately identify ideas as being described within a femininities framework we would also need to consider an opposing framework described by masculinities.

Adding Joseph to the team, we began to frame the masculine. Interestingly, and opposite to the first volume, cathartic would not be the first word of choice to describe the journey to publication of the masculinities book. Generally, we struggled with the content, the lack of regard to deadlines, and even the language choices of contributors, as they sometimes awkwardly attempted to express their own gendered journeys. Despite this struggle, we are immensely proud of the contributions. Having had time to reflect on the process, what we have come to realise was that some of the initial content that could have been read as offensive, was merely the contributors stumbling through a sometimes difficult process of self reflexivity – a process that is not commonly asked of males and one which they volunteered to take part in. In other words, our contributors, operating in a masculine field space, did not have to reflect on their actions or processes, but rather did so to advance our collective disciplines.

If the everyday is a microcosm of the world at large, then the rise of hyper-masculine cohorts like The Proud Boys emphasises the need to redouble efforts toward understanding contemporary masculinities. The aforementioned manifestations highlight how masculinities appear to have taken a turn, away from the rise of the metrosexual male in recent decades, and boomeranged to an era where the emplacement of men has shifted to make way for gender equality. This state of flux is fertile ground for casting an eye on masculinities that finds itself under sustained pressure to adapt to a rapidly developing status quo or oppose such shifts in vehement and outward ways as we have come to see around the globe.

Taking wider macro developments in masculinities into account and shifting the gaze to manifestations of it in research practice highlights that the undercurrents so redolent elsewhere inevitably find their way into the sights of research we encounter. What then are the implications for how we go about our research practice? Furthermore, notions of masculinities as singular and straightforward constructs are dashed in this edited volume where evidently, masculinities inhabit a spectrum of demonstrations and within this, speak volumes about how rather than gaze on ideas of masculinities that are taken for granted, more nuanced and open minded conceptions are pressing.

Brooke Porter, Heike A. Schänzel and Joseph M. Cheer

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Femininities in the Field edited by Brooke A. Porter and Heike A. Schänzel.

How Does Gender Shape Fieldwork Experiences?

We recently published Femininities in the Field edited by Brooke A. Porter and Heike A. Schänzel. In this post the editors explain why the book is necessary and what they hope will be achieved from its publication.

Gendered actions have been receiving quite a bit of press lately, and rightly so. While much of the press has been focused on power inequalities, some attention has been given towards gender equalities. With the academy far from being viewed as gender equal, our motivation for the book is to explore how femininities shape fieldwork experiences in the social sciences, specifically in tourism. Research in the field has long been considered as a masculine act in a masculine space, with the idea of the lone-researcher at the forefront tracing back to anthropological endeavours. For many researchers, this narrow construction can be intimidating. Yet, for any researcher in the field, we argue the undeniable influence, both positive and negative, of gender on fieldwork.

A main aim of this book is to describe gender as a variable worthy of attention, in the field, in the analysis, and in the reporting of any piece of research. Through fifteen self-reflexive analyses (including two by men), our contributors reflect on past fieldwork experiences through a gendered lens. Tourism research was the common thread for all contributors, but the experiences are diverse and without doubt, transdisciplinary. From tales from marine mammal research in the high seas to the party-filled streets of Mallorca, each contributor provides an explicit account of how gender affected their fieldwork. The diversity of the contributions became most apparent to us when it came time to choose a cover. We simply could not find an image that could effectively convey the book’s contents. After nearly twenty correspondences, we ditched the idea of an image and decided on a multifaceted illustration. The colourful graphics depict the diversities, and the expressions convey many of the heartfelt emotions revealed in the book.

This book is meant to be a tool for researchers at any stage in their career, for supervisors and mentors, and for committees involved in the fieldwork process. It is both a tool of reference and a path forward.

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Ethnographic Fieldwork by Jan Blommaert and Dong Jie.