Should we have a specific methodology for the study of women?
us consider two aspects:
"The low numbers of female participation are not
the reason for the ever increasing female underdevelopment, but
the consequence of their forced and asymmetrical participation
in a process where they paid the price and did not receive any
o Should the women's issue be transversal to all subjects instead
of restricted to just one subject or to the so-called "women's
o Regardless of the fact that the participative research is
a consciousness-raising or an emancipating methodology, it should
nevertheless be a privileged means of research to and about
allows us an attempt to answer the question: How can feminist
studies contribute to a better development process?
the first place, studies about women in underdeveloped countries
constitute an important source of reflection and criticism about
the conditions to which women are subject. Second, studies show
us the social asymmetries between the north and the south, resulting
in a criticism about the preponderance of western feminism among
women from developing countries, and in particular from Latin
Shiva, an Indian feminist with a doctorate in Physics, declared
a few years ago at a United Nations meeting on the Women's Decade:
When we talk about participative research in relation to women,
we are not referring simply to psycho-sociological orientations.
Today there is also a strong anthropological orientation that
works with life stories, i.e., how did the group object of research
build its story and how this story is
"translated" by researchers. Ruth Behar, an American
anthropologist of Latin American origin, published a work that
became a reference in this field:
we examine the issues of Latin American women, we again observe,
as with works about women and the patriarchal authority in Brazil,
that changes are not synchronic. On the contrary, Latin American
women become modern without stepping out of tradition.
a German sociologist who follows the Paulo Freire tradition
adopted by several researchers devoted to feminist popular
education points out the strong points of this kind of research.
They are summarized below:
1. There must be a partial identification among the objects
of research. The aseptic type of research which discards
notions of values must cease.
2. There must be a vision from the bottom up and not only
from the top down. The academic approach has to take into
consideration its subjects' realities and, above all, how
they see their reality.
3. The author declares that pure theoretic knowledge is
dead, in the contemplative sense. She says no to Max Weber,
who separates science from politic praxis.
4. Research should promote the awareness of oppression,
as inspired by Paulo Freire (popular education ).
5. Research should go beyond the "individual and social
history of women. Women cannot take charge of their individual
history unless they take charge of their own experiences.
M., SHIVA, V. Ecofeminismo. Lisboa, Piaget, 1999"
R. Translated Women. Beacon Press, 1985."
M., SHIVA, V. Ecofeminismo. Lisboa, Piaget ,1999."