With sponsorship from COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) and from Royal Holloway, we brought together PhD students and Early Career Researchers/Academics in the Summer School, followed by an inter-disciplinary conference on the use and integration of different techniques and methodologies.
Within the Social Sciences, the disciplines of Management, Sociology, Politics and Economics have all begun to look at issues faced by LGBTQI+ communities, using a range of different methods. Analysis has benefitted from the increased collection of SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) data. A notable example is the UK Census 2021 where the first results from England and Wales will be available this Summer.
Traditional quantitative and qualitative techniques are challenged by the inherent problem of identification. For large datasets, many survey participants decline to answer sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) questions, or may answer them inaccurately. There is no ‘reference’ sample (we do not know how many sexual minority individuals are in the overall population) to provide a benchmark. In qualitative work, finding an appropriate group of individuals to engage with is highly problematic. This is one reason to explore widely the nature of different methodologies and ways to address these problems.
Potential methodologies for understanding the experiences and difficulties faced by LGBTQI+ individuals and families extend beyond traditional social sciences. There has been extensive work in psychology and a broad range of humanities subjects under the rubric of ‘Queer Studies’. This needs to take account of the fluidity and non-binary nature of SOGI attributes.
All activities were in-person at Royal Holloway’s campus (accoladed as the most beautiful in England) in Egham, a half-hour train journey from London Waterloo station. Accommodation and meals were in the Grade 1 listed Founder’s Building. The Summer School and Conference are residential. The COST Action is designed to encourage networking, so in-person attendance was viewed as vital. Further, it is hoped and anticipated that the participants will continue to network in the future, building up a strong European and international group of scholars working together.
The Summer School begun on the afternoon of the 24th June and continued through the morning of the 26th June. It was designed for PhD students/Post-docs/and Early Career Researchers (normally within eight years of the award of the PhD) in the field. This does not mean that individuals need to have LGBTQI+ topics as the primary focus of their PhD or research, but that they have interests in researching in this field and contributing to the growing body of knowledge and understanding. All disciplinary backgrounds were considered.
All participants stayed for the conference on the 27th and 28th June. During the Summer School, participants will engage in active projects and will present their discussions in the Conference (in either a poster or dedicated session).
From the COST Action, academics participating include: Tindara Addabbo (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia), Anna Einarsdottir (University of York), Manwel Ellul (Malta), Jeff Frank (Royal Holloway), André Krouwel (Vrije University Amsterdam), and Sergiu Miscoiu (Babeș-Bolyai University). Royal Holloway has interdisciplinary strengths in related subjects, notably through the Gender Institute, and is world-leading in the relevant disciplines and in the Humanities.
COST allocated 15 funded training places to cover room, board and reasonable transportation costs.
There was also support available for Conference attendees and speakers.
See below for some images from the summer school and workshop.