Bethan Harries is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology. Bethan’s article Disturbing Hierarchies: Sexual Harassment and the Politics of Intimacy in Fieldwork was recently published in Qualitative Research Journal.
The article examines how sexual harassment is often mediated through the making of imagined complicities that are constructed to imply that an alliance/compliance underpins the relationship and ‘justifies’ the harassment. It is concerned with how the making and doing of intimacies engages with broader hierarchical structures of power, including structures of inequality. Fieldwork is viewed as a site in which the politics of intimacy exposes normative expectations and structures of inequality. Specifically, the discussion shows how processes of Othering are mobilised by participants as a means to cultivate imagined complicities but expose discrimination. The paper calls for a reappraisal of the focus placed on building rapport and/or a sense of familiarity in qualitative research to take account of multiple forms of intimacies and risks they can entail. This is increasingly prescient in light of the renewed emphasis on participatory methods and co-production which entail closer working relationships.
Bethan joined Newcastle Sociology in 2019 having previously worked at the University of Manchester, and worked as an immigration lawyer in Bradford and as an international election observer before joining academia. Her research interests are broadly in youth, urban citizenship, race and nationhood, especially in terms of how young people talk about, negotiate and resist race and racism (Talking race in young adulthood) and how austerity intersects with racism. Bethan’s current research is concerned with how devolution and the independence movements in Wales and Scotland interact with, and are affected by, shifting narratives of nationalism and understandings of citizenship and carry the potential to shape new forms of inclusion and exclusion.