When Black + Lesbian + Woman ≠ Black Lesbian Woman: The Methodological Challenges of Qualitative and Quantitative Intersectionality Research
- 7.6k Downloads
The notion that social identities and social inequality based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, and sex/gender are intersectional rather than additive poses a variety of thorny methodological challenges. Using research with Black lesbians (Bowleg, manuscripts in preparation; Bowleg et al., Journal of Lesbian Studies, 2008; Bowleg et al., Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology 10:229–240, 2004; Bowleg et al., Journal of Lesbian Studies, 7:87–108, 2003) as a foundation, I examine how these challenges shape measurement, analysis, and interpretation. I argue that a key dilemma for intersectionality researchers is that the additive (e.g., Black + Lesbian + Woman) versus intersectional (e.g., Black Lesbian Woman) assumption inherent in measurement and qualitative and quantitative data analyses contradicts the central tenet of intersectionality: social identities and inequality are interdependent for groups such as Black lesbians, not mutually exclusive. In light of this, interpretation becomes one of the most substantial tools in the intersectionality researcher’s methodological toolbox.
KeywordsIntersectionality research methods Black lesbians
To my friend, colleague, and statistical guru Torsten B. Neilands, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Director of the Methods Core at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Francisco, I offer my immense gratitude for his thoughtful comments about the implications of intersectionality for quantitative research. My sincere thanks also extend to Judith Agyeman, my wonderful graduate research assistant at the School of Public Health who assisted with fact checking and literature reviews for this article. Last, but by no means least, I express my gratitude to the participants of the BLSR and TT study, without whom none of this research would be possible.
- Baptiste, I. (2001). Qualitative data analysis: Common phases, strategic differences [Electronic Version]. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 2(3). http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs-texte/3-01/3-01baptiste-e.htm. Retrieved 2 Sep 2007.
- Beale, F. (1970). Double jeopardy: To be black and female. In T. Cade (Ed.) The Black woman (pp. 90–100). New York: Signet.Google Scholar
- Bowleg, L., Brooks, K., & Ritz, S. F. (2008). “Bringing home more than a paycheck”: An exploratory analysis of Black lesbians’ experiences of stress and coping in the workplace. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 12(1), 69–84.Google Scholar
- Bradburn, N. M., Sudman, S., & Wansink, B. (2004). Asking questions: The definitive guide to questionnaire design—for market research, political polls, and social and health questionnaires. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Brooks, V. R. (1981). Minority stress and lesbian women. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
- Collins, P. H. (1991). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Crenshaw, K. W. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 139, 139–167.Google Scholar
- Crosby, F., Cordova, D. I., & Jaskar, K. (1993). On the failure to see oneself as disadvantaged: Cognitive and emotional components. In M. Hogg, & D. Abrams (Eds.) Group motivation: Social psychological perspectives (pp. 87–104). Hertfordshire, England: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
- Cuadraz, G. H., & Uttal, L. (1999). Intersectionality and in-depth interviews: Methodological strategies for analyzing race, class, and gender. Race, Gender & Class, 6, 156–186.Google Scholar
- Dang, A., & Frazer, S. (2004). Black same-sex households in the United States: A report from the 2000 Census. http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/blackcensus/BCRNationalReport.pdf. Retrieved 9 Dec 2005.
- Davis, A. Y. (1983). Women, race and class (1st Ed.). New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
- DiPlacido, J. (1998). Minority stress among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals: A consequence of heterosexism, homophobia, and stigmatization. In G. M. Herek (Ed.) Stigma and sexual orientation: Understanding prejudice against lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (pp. 138–159). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Fine, M., Weis, L., Weseen, S., & Wong, L. (2000). For whom? Qualitative research, representations, and social responsibilities. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.) Handbook of qualitative research (2nd Ed. pp. 107–131). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Greene, B. (1995). Lesbian women of color: Triple jeopardy. In L. Comas-Diaz, & B. Greene (Eds.) Women of color: Integrating ethnic and gender identities in psychotherapy (pp. 389–427). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Greene, B. (Ed.). (1997). Ethnic and cultural diversity among lesbians and gay men. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Hooks, B. (1981). Ain’t I a woman: Black women and feminism. Boston, MA: South End.Google Scholar
- Hull, G. T., Bell Scott, P., & Smith, B. (Eds.). (1982). But some of us are brave: All the women are White, all the Blacks are men: Black Women’s Studies. Old Westbury, NY: Feminist.Google Scholar
- Jones, C., & Shorter-Gooden, K. (2003). Shifting: The double lives of Black women in America. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
- Landrine, H., Klonoff, E. A., Alcaraz, R., Scott, J., & Wilkins, P. (1995). Multiple variables in discrimination. In B. Lott, & D. Maluso (Eds.) The social psychology of interpersonal discrimination (pp. 183–224). NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Lorde, A. (1984). Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing.Google Scholar
- Marecek, J. (2003). Dancing through minefields: Toward a qualitative stance in psychology. In P. M. Camic, J. E. Rhodes, & L. Yardley (Eds.) Qualitative research in psychology: Expanding perspectives in methodology and design (pp. 49–69). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mays, V. M., & Cochran, S. D. (1988). The Black women’s relationship project: A national survey of Black lesbians. In M. Shernoff, & W. Scott (Eds.) The sourcebook on lesbian/gay health care (2nd Ed. pp. 54–62). Washington, DC: The National Lesbian/Gay Health Foundation.Google Scholar
- McGrath, J. E., & Johnson, B. A. (2003). Methodology makes meaning: How both qualitative and quantitative paradigms shape evidence and its interpretation. In P. M. Camic, J. E. Rhodes, & L. Yardley (Eds.) Qualitative research in psychology: Expanding perspectives in methodology and design (pp. 31–48). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. (2005). States, cities and counties with civil rights ordinances, policies or proclamations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (Current through July 2005). http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/FAIRAmicus-LocalLawsTable.pdf. Retrieved 9 Dec 2005
- Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative interviewing. In Qualitative research and evaluation methods 3rd ed (pp. 339–427). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Peplau, L. A., Cochran, S. D., & Mays, V. M. (1997). A national survey of the intimate relationships of African American lesbians and gay men: A look at commitment, satisfaction, sexual behavior, and HIV disease. In B. Greene (Ed.) Ethnic and cultural diversity among lesbians and gay men (pp. 11–38). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Ransford, H. E. (1980). The prediction of social behavior and attitudes. In V. Jeffries, & H. Ransford (Eds.) Social stratification: A multiple hierarchy approach (pp. 265–295). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
- Smedley, B. D., Stith, A. Y., & Nelson, A. R. (Eds.). (2003). Unequal treatment: Confronting racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Washington, DC: National Academies.Google Scholar
- Spelman, E. V. (1998). Gender and race: The ampersand problem in feminist thought. In S. Ruth (Ed.) Issues in feminism: An introduction to Women’s studies 4th ed (pp. 22–34). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.Google Scholar
- Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Tashakkori, A., & Teddlie, C. (1998). Introduction to mixed method and mixed model studies in the social and behavioral sciences: Paradigm wars and mixed methodologies. In Mixed methodology: Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches (pp. 3–19). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Truth, S. (1851). Ain’t I a woman? [Electronic Version]. http://afroamhistory.about.com/od/sojournertruth/a/aintiawoman.htm. Retrieved 15 Jan 2007.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Healthy People 2010 (No. 017-001-00547-9). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar