Theory, Research, & Praxis
Edited By Donald Jr. Mitchell, Jakia Marie and Tiffany Steele
Chapter Ten: Backward Thinking: Exploring the Relationship among Intersectionality, Epistemology, and Research Design
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Exploring the Relationship among Intersectionality, Epistemology, and Research Design
DANIEL TILLAPAUGH AND Z NICOLAZZO
Scholarship on intersectionality, particularly in educational research, often focuses on the intersecting identities of participants (e.g., Jones & Abes, 2013; Tillapaugh, 2012). Despite this focus, Renn (2010) argued that some scholars’ use of intersectionality inadvertently created “some slippage of the term among educational researchers” (p. 7). The lack of exploration regarding the interrogation of power implicit in intersectionality, how it influences one’s multiple identities and how it mediates one’s interactions with others, troubles us as scholars. We believe intersectional thinking that begins and ends with research participants’ identities misses an important step, which is how intersectionality is implicated in, and thus influences, the research design. We argue that one’s epistemological grounding, how one conceptualizes truth and power and the ways in which scholars influence each other’s thinking about their research projects, has a direct impact on the fecundity of the research content. These are the topics around which we frame our analysis within this chapter. In doing so, we find it important to engage in backward thinking, or the idea that one not only needs to leverage intersectionality with participants and in data analysis but also prior to seeking participants, specifically in terms of one’s epistemology, reflexivity, and overall research design.
In this chapter, we pose the following questions, which serve as a guide to our backward thinking:
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