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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 37;

Enhancing Intersectional Analyses with Polyvocality: Making and Illustrating the Model

Department of Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia, University of Hamburg, Asien-Afrika-Institut (Asia-Africa-Institute), Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, Hamburg 20146, Germany
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur, Rajasthan 342011, India
Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Martin J. Bull and Michele Adams
Received: 28 December 2016 / Revised: 25 February 2017 / Accepted: 15 March 2017 / Published: 23 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender, Family, and Society: Reciprocal Influences)
Full-Text   |   PDF [268 KB, uploaded 23 March 2017]


Since the inception of the intersectionality framework by feminists over three decades ago, scholars have advanced the analysis and subsequent understanding of peoples’ social locations, identity constructions, and systems of oppression involving gender, ethnicity, religion, class, and caste, to name a few. Considering these axes of differentiation as mutually constitutive rather than only as individual factors has been the single most important innovation. However, intersectionality has yet to reach its potential theoretically, methodologically, and practically. For instance, the framework is rarely applied to social phenomena that extend beyond the confines of a given nation-state. In previous publications, we have addressed this shortcoming by arguing for applying intersectionality across multiple social scales (intimate, regional, national, and transnational). We have shown how any given person’s intersectionality can and often does shift according to the scale of analysis. In this article, we address another important way to strengthen intersectionality—bringing in polyvocality. That is, and drawing upon arguments originally made in postmodern critiques of “writing culture”, publications tend to reflect partial and/or limited perspectives, typically those reflecting researchers’ privileged, authoritative accounts. In this article, in contrast, we include different insider (ego) and outsider (ego’s relatives’ and the researchers’) perspectives. The article includes the theoretical and methodological argument for adding polyvocality to intersectionality and then applies the proposed model to an ethnographic case. We illustrate how intersectional constellations shift from voiced interpretation to voiced interpretation and, in so doing, deepen, expand, and problematize these same analyses. View Full-Text
Keywords: intersectionality; polyvocality; emic-etic distinction; gender; family intersectionality; polyvocality; emic-etic distinction; gender; family
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Thimm, V.; Chaudhuri, M.; Mahler, S.J. Enhancing Intersectional Analyses with Polyvocality: Making and Illustrating the Model. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 37.

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