Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Scholarly Future Goals

Going to these academic conferences always gets me motivated to become a scholar. The inspiration fades when I get home and realize how much work (and how little reward) that would actually require. But there is no harm in letting my mind wander and make plans that I may never pursue. So here is the plan. After I graduate I want to do some research and write some articles. Who knows if I could get published, but wouldn't it be fun if I did? I have two ideas so far. First, I want to find out more about the work conditions under which knitting supplies are made-- partly out of my own interest and partly because I think other people want the information. Some of the vendors we use at the shop talk about their fair working conditions and humanitarian goals (Lantern Moon comes to mind) but a) how much can you trust when companies tell us and b) what about all the other vendors and manufacturers, especially the big ones, who don't tell us anything about their labor conditions? I am not sure how to find this information (and more importantly, how to know that the info I do find is trustworthy), but there must be a way. Also important is what the environmental impact of yarn and needle production is. Some manufacturing processes introduce a lot of chemicals into the environment, but some companies use organic, renewable fibers, environmentally friendly dyes and environmentally responsible processing methods. There is a decent amount of information available about the small one-man (or woman) type companies, but what I can't find anywhere is information about the bigger companies like Cascade, Crystal Palace, Berroco, Plymouth, etc. A lot of research will be required.

My other idea is more anthropological/sociological. I have been reading recently about the many challenges of being a modern woman faced with the responsibilities of a career and a family. What I haven't read anything about in the scholarly literature, however, are WAHMs. WAHMs (Work At Home Moms) are women who have found a way to balance full time motherhood (often even homeschooling their kids) AND having a job that satisfies their desire to be productive, creative and financially independent. This isn't the perfect or only solution to the problem our society faces but I think it is a really interesting and important way that many woman have adapted to the challenges they face. I want to interview WAHMs to find out why and how they became WAHMs, how well it works for them as far as allowing them to be full time moms as well as feel satisfied and productive, how economics play into it (do they do it because they need the money or just because they want to be productive? are they able to make enough money doing it? etc), how it affects their relationships with their husbands, how their husbands feel about it (including how much support they give and how much their value the work that they do and the time that they spend doing it), how it affects the "second shift", and if they would rather be employed outside the home (i.e. are they WHAMs because they feel obligated to stay at home with the kids).

So many ideas, so little time to do all the research...

1 comment:

Kristy Minner said...

Hey Laura - Hope you're having a good time in Florida. That's my old homestate, so I hope it's treating you well. I read your blog from time to time because my daughter and I are regulars at the knitting shop and we're always interested in what gazillion projects you are working on! I'm anxious to see the sweater for the shop! Anywho - I'm a stay-at-home mom and I homeschool. I'm interested in your interest in WAHM. That's something I've wondered about myself. I'm fortunate enough to be able to not have to work and I don't feel the need to work to be fulfilled. Believe me, I work, just not for a paycheck! If you don't mind, I'll just talk with you at the store some time when you come home, I just found this all interesting and wanted to leave a comment. Soak up some sun for us! It's in the 50's today. BRRRR!