Thursday, 20 March 2014

Why qualitative researchers think the insider perspective might have some value

Any ethical system has at its heart what Peter Singer has called the 'golden rule' of the necessity of being able to see the world through the eyes of another -- to imagine other lives, other interests, other ways of being and seeing that are not our own. This is the bedrock upon which the impulse for the ethical is built. Any fool can see their own suffering, can formulate their own interests. But social justice requires of us the ability to take into account sufferings that are not our own. What feminists have long criticised liberalism for is that its purported universalism so often rests on unacknowledged gendered ways of seeing the world -- that is to say that the assumptions that govern a range of social policies and practices purport to be gender neutral but are in fact masculinist in that they reflect ways of seeing the world that take no account of women's experiences. But even those of us who have been making this point for decades perhaps did not imagine that our insight could have been so crudely and literally true as this male legislator's response to a question about abortion indicates. Please view the attached YouTube clip – “It’s a question I have never even thought about”. For the full Aljazeera documentary see

Posted by: Professor Louise Vincent
Department of Political and International Studies
Rhodes University, South Africa

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