Researching DIY cultures: towards a situated ethical practice for activist-academia

Downes, Julia; Breeze, Maddie and Griffin, Naomi (2013). Researching DIY cultures: towards a situated ethical practice for activist-academia. Graduate Journal of Social Science, 10(3) pp. 100–124.



The empirical study of DIY culture and feminist cultural activism is a flourishing interdisciplinary research area particularly in the USA, Canada, Australia and UK. This has enabled a growth in participant-researchers doing research on their own DIY cultures and activist communities of belonging. Tensions occur here for the participant-researcher in relation to conventional data collection methods, ethical and moral decisions and modes of research dissemination. This article develops discussions of dilemmas experienced by the authors during doctoral research projects on DIY punk, roller derby and queer feminist music cultures. We detail the possibilities and tensions met when the participant-researcher encounters existing subcultural theories, ethical codes of practice, data collection methods and the dissemination of academic research. In addition we offer insights into the under-documented emotional impacts and moments of crisis the participant-researcher needs to attend to when carrying out research with/in personal and political communities of belonging. In conclusion, we offer a series of recommendations for a situated ethical practice for research with/in DIY cultures in relation to engaged data generation methods, flexible ethical thinking and communities of practice.

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