THE SAFETY DANCE: CONFRONTING HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION, AND VIOLENCE IN THE FIELD

Authors


  • The authors would like to thank Douglas Jackson-Smith for comments on early versions of this manuscript, as well as members of the Fem-Sem brownbag at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for encouragement and suggestions. Direct all correspondence to Gwen Sharp, Department of History and Sociology, 225 Centrum Arena, 351 W. Center St., Southern Utah University, Cedar City, UT 84720; E-mail: sharpg@suu.edu.

Abstract

This paper discusses how gender dynamics may put female researchers at risk of harassment or even violence from participants, research assistants, or bystanders when conducting fieldwork. Based on a review of the existing literature on fieldwork safety, as well as the authors' own experiences interviewing male participants, the authors argue that attention to protecting subjects of research has led the social science community to largely ignore the possibility that in some cases, researchers themselves may be at risk. The paper concludes with suggested strategies for increasing researcher safety during data collection, as well as a call for issues of fieldwork safety to be more openly discussed by supervisors, professors, advisors, and others who guide novice researchers through the fieldwork process.

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