Research relations in military settings: how does gender mater?
Qualitative methods in military studies: research experiences and challenges
The question of how gender impacts the research process has frequently been addressed in the methodological literature of the social sciences. Much less has been written on the way that it affects the development of research in a particularly gendered organization such as the armed forces. The aim of this chapter is to discuss the way gender impacts research in military settings, highlighting both commonalties and differences regarding other fields of study and the variety of aspects through which gender might affect the course of the research. A number of issues are examined, resorting to concrete research examples: the impact of the researcher’s and the researched gender on negotiating access or discursive interaction during interviews; the gendered interpretations of the researched; the gendered nature of the context and the gender focus of the research topic. After revisiting proposals that refer to the research process as a social process itself, the chapter proceeds with a revision of the literature on the “gender factor” in research and gendered nature of military settings. It then moves onto the examination of a concrete research experience – a case study of a Portuguese peacekeeping battalion deployed to a NATOled mission in Kosovo in 2009 – in order to illustrate how, in this specific case, researchers dealt with the gender dimension of the research process, including both the trade-offs involved in the negotiation of their roles and forms of control required to acknowledge and minimize the impact of gender in the conduct of field research.