Fighting on four fronts

The first half of my retrospective diary has been assembled. That half-time marker presents an unmissable occasion to have a good look at what has been achieved, if anything, so far. I am currently listening through the video diaries to pick out threads, strands and loose ends – weeding and chaffing. I can then refine the process for the second half. If there are clear threads emerging, I should give more focus to these themes.

My research question is all about the forms of marginalisation that women activists experience when campaigning for cycleways (space allocation away from cars, driving and parking). The structure that I want to use from now on (and will revisit over time and improve it) is that of a matrix. Through the video diary (also through personal involvement as an activist, the ethnography including interviews, and the comparative element of my research) I have identified four fields of contention.

A1 external / paradigmatic-political

A2 external / rules of engagement

B1 internal / paradigmatic-political

B2 internal / rules of engagement

The four fronts are illustrated in the matrix below. No doubt they are also interactive and overlapping, but these four fields, as listed underneath, seem a good fit describing the forms of marginalisation that local women activists encounter.


So, how does the video diary fit into answering the research question and the four-fronts matrix? Going through eight hours of video diary, I could sense and spot the four fronts quite profusely. It is also good to see that the non-sequential nature of the diary assembly (I am jumping through weeks in different years) works well. My hypothesis that it would be an effective way to draw out strands (especially because of the jumping-around, ie de-focussing before focussing again) seems to be right.

Fighting paradigms, external and internal, comes up in my diary frequently. Trying to counteract this by challenging the paradigm(s) and establishing counter-narratives is how newcycling has (re)acted since 2010.

Fighting for collaboration, external and internal, is the most prominent strand in the diary. The description of trying hard, again and again, to gain an ear, to offer alternative directions of thinking, to find people you can work with is very apparent. In fact ‘creating spaces of collaboration’ regularly gets me into quite an expressive state in the video diary – outlining yet another instance of marginalisation despite using rational/logical evidence-based arguments. But it is persistent: building alliances and growing the voice is what newcycling has consistently worked on since 2010 – and often found it wanting and testing.

Oh joy. I still have some hours of listening (and note taking, re-listening, reading notes and re-reading) to do before deciding on the adjustments to the current video-diary process. Suffice it to say, the work of the last six months has been valuable and it provides relevant data for my thesis. But, naturally for any process, there always is room for improvement.


Here’s an impression of the diary in progress… each picture represents a 3-minute video diary.


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