"Using Reflexivity as a Tool to Validate Feminist Research Based on Personal Trauma"
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This essay explores social science researchers with ‘insider status’. This term describes a researcher who is a member of the population they are studying. The research in question involved a birth mother studying the impact of compulsory child adoption on birth mothers. Research that grows from traumatic experiences may involve a researcher revisiting painful memories through her interactions with participants. She may hold unconscious biases and preconceptions. If not exposed or addressed, this raises ethical implications and can negatively affect the reliability of the findings. Personally motivated research can be validated with the use of reflexivity. Often used in feminist methodology, it demands that the researcher examines her own feelings, reactions, and motives, and how these influence the interactions with participants, the analysis and findings. This essay shows how these philosophies behind reflexivity operate in practice. By reflexively aligning my own personal journey alongside birth mothers’ narrative, I was able to recognise and validate the role of myself in my research. This allowed me to face up to and challenge my biases and to avoid hierarchy that commonly exists between researcher and participants. For me this process went beyond simply being ethical practice, opening up opportunities for both creative and personal transformations.
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