Volume 5 Issue 2 (2009)
Main Articles

Catching Gender-Identity Production in Flight: Making the Commonplace Visible

Darryl W. Coulthard
Deakin University
Published April 20, 2010
  • gender-identity,
  • self-identity,
  • research method,
  • social constructionism


The purpose of this article is to develop and illustrate an approach for making the commonplace visible in a natural, as opposed to manipulated, social setting. The key research task was to find a way of capturing the ongoing production or enactment of the self that provides some insight into the way in which it is produced in a routine, matter of fact way. The article takes a number of steps to develop a research approach to the task. First, gender-identity was selected as a more specific aspect of self-production. Second, the concept of "flashpoints" was used to refer to a particular moment in the routine which achieves some significance or salience as a result of the participants seizing upon some otherwise unremarkable action or statement and twisting it to their purpose. In this study, the purpose was gender-identity creation. Primary school children in the classroom and their teachers were the participants of the study. Through the use of flashpoints, the article demonstrates how gender-identity production of these children can be caught in flight. The article concludes that this approach can be added to the researcher's toolkit.