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Worlds apart? : on doing feminist cross-cultural comparative research
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by V Mapedzahama
The increased participation of women (especially mothers) in the paid workforce in recent years has resulted in much sociological research focusing on employed mothers’ strain in negotiating paid work and family demands; and a growth of social science literature that focuses on the intersection of work and family. As a working mother and an immigrant in (South) Australia, I found myself juggling the many balls of motherhood, wifehood and paid worker, hence my resolve to find out how working mothers do balance such competing demands. Inspired by my own experiences then, I embarked on a PhD thesis that sought to analyse the work-life balance of working women in two culturally, economically and politically diverse countries: Australia and Zimbabwe. My aim in doing cross-cultural research on women in societies that have undergone (predominantly) different changes in work and family is to uncover how cultural constructions of such factors like motherhood, womanhood and wifehood might affect the work-life balance of these women. In this paper I discuss the dilemmas in conducting research across two cultures. Thus, the paper is a reflective piece on my experiences during the data collection for the study, and of my reasons for embarking on a research of this nature (that is; cross-cultural analysis). In particular, focus will be on my experiences of the power relationships in the interview process as well as my dilemmas in negotiating the insider/outsider position while conducting the interviews in Adelaide and in Harare.