Edwards receives ICQI 2021 Outstanding Qualitative Research Book Award

Erica B. Edwards, Ph.D.

Erica B. Edwards, Ph.D., assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies, is a co-recipient of the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (ICQI) 2021 Outstanding Qualitative Research Book Award. She and Jennifer Esposito, Ph.D., professor of educational policy studies at Georgia State University, co-wrote Intersectional Analysis as a Method to Analyze Popular Culture Texts: Clarity in the Matrix to describe their methodology for analyzing popular culture. The award was presented during the 17th ICQI, which took place virtually last month.  

The idea for the book was conceived when Edwards was a doctoral student. She and Esposito — who she considers a mentor and research collaborator — bonded around their love for popular culture and had frequent conversations about how issues of race, class, gender, and other social constructs were represented in TV, film, and music.  

“It was natural for us to critique the images we saw,” Edwards said. “We were always thinking and talking about what they meant for Black and Brown women and other axes of identity.” 

When Edwards took a class Esposito taught about pop culture, she wrote a paper about Black girls’ reactions to “Love and Hip Hop.” The pair realized they had similar attitudes and ideas, and they collaborated on a discourse analysis of the show. Then Esposito mentioned she had been invited to submit a book proposal and she enjoyed their collaborative writing process.  

“Much of the time in academia, we consider theoretical pieces about pop culture as less serious research, but the more we viewed pop culture through an intersectional lens, we realized it is an institution that shapes the way many people see the world and the way they create opportunities,” said Edwards. “We decided to write a textbook to teach others how to do this work.” 

Edwards said the process is intuitive. When people watch shows or films, they either identify with the images they see and hear or critique them, often pointing out what is true and what is not. On the personal side, they may be happy to see others who look like them on screen, and on the ideological side, they may consider what the images actually mean and how they shape society’s understanding of their experience. 

Intersectional Analysis as a Method to Analyze Popular Culture Texts: Clarity in the Matrix offers an overview of intersectional theory and rationale for using it to investigate popular culture. It also covers ethical considerations for conducting research on popular culture, with emphasis on television sitcoms, films, music, and social media. Edwards said the book crosses disciplines and is a guide to help those interested in exploring the connections between popular culture and society. 

“The purpose of the book is to support students who are interested in the hidden curriculum — aspects of society that often get overlooked, and pop culture is one of those institutions,” said Edwards. “The intent is to support and encourage graduate students and advanced undergraduates who have an interest in investigating spaces where we may have assumptions that are taken for granted to explore them.” 

Edwards and Esposito will conduct a workshop based on their book at the 20th annual Thinking Qualitatively Conference. Hosted by the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology, it is scheduled to take place on Monday, July 5, at 2 p.m. (PST).  

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