Revamped Literature Review and Methods Section

  1. How will my literature review need to change between now and my final submission? (Is it currently too long? Too vague? Does it do a sufficient job in taking up the specifics of my research question? Am I confident that I have an adequate grasp of the puzzles and schools of thought in the field?)

My current literature review of empowerment needs to be condensed and include more precise statements outlining how it informs my project and analysis.  I still believe that my schools of thought including international development, feminism, and education are the most important in addressing empowerment.  However, since my discourse analysis focuses on the meaning-making of organization propaganda I will also consider how empowerment is portrayed in media campaigns.  Further, I might explore how empowerment and messages of heroism inspire audiences to act.  My development through education section needs the most attention because I initially focused on power structures within educational systems.  This approach might have been more appropriate if I had chosen ethnography.  However, now I must focus more on the developmental implications of empowerment through education.


  1. What additional works do I need to read in anticipation of our workshop on February 10 to make this happen? Please do some concrete research here and provide a bibliographical list.


Adhikari, H. “Freedom Vis a Vis Independence: An Overview in Light of Feminism, Women’s      Development and Empowerment.” Journal of international women’s studies 14, no. 3          (2013): 275-85.

Chant, Sylvia. “Women, Girls and World Poverty: Empowerment, Equality or Essentialism?”         International development planning review 38, no. 1 (2016: 1-24.

Duflo, Esther. “Women Empowerment and Economic Development.” Journal of Economic             Literature 50, no. 4 (2012): 1051-79.   

Eyben, Rosalind. “Choosing Words with Care? Shifting Meanings of Women’s Empowerment in   International Development.” Third world quarterly 30, no. 2 (2009: 285-300.

Lennie, J. “Deconstructing Gendered Power Relations in Participatory Planning: Towards an          Empowering Feminist Framework of Participation and Action.” Women’s Studies            International Forum 22, no. 1 (1999): 97-112.     5395(98)00098-3.

Switzer, H. “(Post)Feminist Development Fables: The Girl Effect and the Production of Sexual      Subjects.” Feminist Theory 14, no. 3 (2013): 345-60.



Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Translated by Myra Bergman Ramos. 30th         Anniversary Edition ed. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc.,   2005.

Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom. New York: Anchor Books, 1999.


  1. How will my methodology discussion need to change between now and my final submission? (Is it currently too long? Too vague? Does it do a sufficient job in taking up the specifics of my research question? Am I confident that I have an adequate grasp of the methods that I plan to employ?)

My methodology discussion needs to be more concise but is specific in addressing my method choices, tradeoffs, justifications, cultural competence, context, and reflexivity.  I need to more clearly address trustworthiness.  My methods section needs to be adjusted to correspond with my exact research methods that I execute rather than my anticipated procedure.  I still must work with my faculty mentor to confirm what I will be able to execute with the resources available to me.  Though I have not analyzed my texts yet, I am confident that I understand the methodology of discourse analysis in the interpretivist world and can work with my mentor on the specifics of coding.


  1. What additional material will I need to read in order to feel confident about my methodology discussion, due on February 28?

Andrew Abbott, Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for the Social Sciences, New York: W.W          Norton & Company, 2004.

Iver B. Neumann, “Discourse Analysis,” in Qualitative Methods in International Relations: A        Pluralist Guide, ed. Audie Klotz & Deepa             Prakash, Houndmills: Palgrave MacMillan,    2008, 63-65.

S Peregrine Schwartz-Shea and Dvora Yanow, Interpretivist Research Design: Concepts and        Processes, New York: Routledge, 2012: Ch. 6: “Designing for Trustworthiness” (pp. 91-      114).

Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (3rd ed.),    Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

  1. What questions and concerns do I have that I might ask about at the Collective Advising Workshops?

What is the most effective way for me to incorporate new dimensions/schools of thought into my literature review?

I want to explore some schools of thought about in empowerment in media. How can I incorporate those ideas into an international relations centered research project?

I question whether my project has shifted so much that I need an entirely new literature review.  How do I start going about this without losing everything that I have collected already?

How much background do I need to include on terms like cultural competence, context, reflexivity, and trustworthiness? Is it assumed that the academic research community knows these concepts?

How much context do I need to include regarding context of my research topic?

Is it too confusing to analyze both propaganda itself (text and videos) and interview activists influenced by that propaganda?

306 Research Portfolio Post #1 Exploring (Dissecting?) our Motivations and Assumptions

In SISU 306, my research on empowerment, articulated as an incontestable good, in propaganda of female education programs is motivated by factors involving my personal curiosities and larger philosophical questions.  In class reflection helped me to identify that I selected my research subject through my own interest in the ‘girl movement’.  Icons like Malala Yousafzai and my participation in fundraising for organizations like She’s the First have prompted me to get involved with the movement in high school and college.  Classes at AU have motivated me to question my blind faith in such organizations and criticize them and their ethical implications.  Apart from pure curiosity, I also hope to create some knowledge that might be used practically to better understand development and gender.  Hopefully, I or others might use my project’s new knowledge to study empowerment or create more effective programs for marginalized populations.  I think that this goal of generation of usable knowledge, corresponds with Aristotle’s concept of aiming “at some good”.[1]  The new knowledge might constitute “good” and it might also bring about “good” solutions to past challenges to development.

Toward the end of 206 I chose and interpretivist methodology to understand the meaning making created by international organizations working to help marginalized women through education.  For the purposes of my project I thought it best and most interesting to research the context of these organizations and their presence online within the past decade.  My motivation to help create “good” through more effective programs and my own curiosities prompted me to understand a specific time and place rather than empowerment in terms of broader trends.  Further, in choosing a context of the Westernized world of international aid, I might better understand the meaning making and assumptions since this context is familiar to me.

One of the normative assumptions that informs my project is that international aid aimed at women’s empowerment has been accepted as an unquestionable good.  It is this assumption that I suspect my analysis will critique since there are complex power struggles involved in empowerment.  Further, empowerment in international development has often been measured by political and economic dimensions.  However, much of my research indicates the importance of the psychological dimension of empowerment related to agency and values.

[1] Aristotle. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by Robert C. Bartlett and Susan D. Collins. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011, 1-2.