Developing a Feminist Research Methodology to Frame Empirical Work, and Other Experiences

“Methodology and theory help me to formulate but also to answer some of the really difficult ethical and social justice questions that get raised when we’re doing feminist research.”

Angela Cameron Associate Professor, Common Law Section, Faculty of Law

On the third day of the 4th Autumn School on the Methodology of Research in Law, Professor Angela Cameron of the Common Law Section, and Professor Suzie Dunn of the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University led an informative discussion about their strategies for bringing a feminist approach to legal research and how they collect data to support their work.

In this video, Professor Cameron speaks about her work on Indigenous-settler relations, and how specific aspects of these relations, for example impact-benefit agreements, might be gendered. She also addresses her work on surrogacy in Canada, which pays special attention the experiences of women who have acted as surrogates. Professor Cameron emphasizes the need to have the voices and perspectives of the research participants present throughout the research process, ensuring that the research team is reflective of the community it is researching, even if this requires finding creative ways to incorporate such voices. She speaks in detail about using institutional ethnography, which encourages the researcher to be reflexive and reflective about how they are positioned in relation to their research participants.

For her part, Professor Dunn details her work on technology-facilitated violence, noting that one of the challenges with looking at this topic from a gendered perspective is having people recognize that it is a problem, or even recognize specifically what it is. She notes the importance of having empirical data when pursuing policy reform and law reform and explores both the challenges and the rewards of conducting both quantitative and qualitative research in a field where our concept of gender is continuously being expanded. Like Professor Cameron, her research is noteworthy for its strong commitment to looking to the margins and ensuring that key voices and perspectives are not overlooked.

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