Fieldwork and Fashion: Gendered and Classed Performances in Research Sites

  • Agata Lisiak Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Keywords: gender, class, fashion, fieldwork, migration, appearance

Abstract

Researchers' performances in the field are gendered, classed, and ethnicized. We are watched and judged by our respondents based on how we look, what we say, and how we say it. Our appearance in the field may increase or decrease our chances of creating rapport, it may encourage respondents to talk to us or discourage them entirely from taking part in our research. Whereas we have no absolute control over all the factors determining how we present ourselves in the field, we do have some power over our dress. Although the act of getting dressed for fieldwork may appear inconspicuous and mundane, I argue in this article that its implications are most relevant for our thinking about how we design and perform fieldwork. Particularly the assumptions regarding our respondents' and our own class, gender, and ethnicity that we make before entering the field are worthy of careful consideration as they display our thought processes and, as such, are part of academic analysis.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1502146

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Author Biography

Agata Lisiak, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Agata LISIAK, Ph.D., is postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She holds a doctoral degree in media and communication studies from University of Halle-Wittenberg (2009), an MPhil in literature from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (2005), and an MA in international relations from the University of Economics in Poznan (2002). She was a postdoc researcher at the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Kaohsiung (2009) and the 2013-14 EURIAS Junior Fellow at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna. Aside from conducting seminars at Humboldt Universität's Urban Sociology Department, LISIAK teaches at Bard College Berlin. She has also worked as an organizer and coordinator of cultural events including festivals, readings, lecture series, and conferences.

Published
2015-05-27
Section
Researcher, Migrant, Woman: Methodological Implications of Multiple Positionalities in Migration Studies