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Comment 2 on "A Rounder’s Lament: A Video Essay of Masculine Identity and Meth Use in the Rural South"

Published onOct 12, 2020
Comment 2 on "A Rounder’s Lament: A Video Essay of Masculine Identity and Meth Use in the Rural South"

[In response to the Editor’s question, “What do you think of the essay?]

This submission presents a strikingly different view on the construction of white male masculinity in the Southern rural streets. It does a fantastic job fully contextualizing JC's day-to-day (subject in essay/video) and those like him. The cultural aspects of his surroundings were stunningly captured as well. There's some hint of “code of the street,” but it is quintessentially Southern, and one that is grounded in both the need to be tough, but also divergent (from the code) because of JC's drug use. Typically, those who subscribe to the code would not agree with drug-use, as it can be read as less masculine. Yet, with this subject, we see a divergence from the norm, and we see him existing in both streams at the same time! 

Of course, his socio-economic position makes the story even more complicated and riveting. The tip on his unemployment, living with his mom, the kids, etc., is all contextual to his lived reality and “choices.” His constant obsession with the need for respect is a significant contribution here—as there is a lack of knowledge around these types of mentalities, particularly to geographies of the South and subjects like JC. I think it's essential that the essay aims at the intersection of masculinity and economics.   

Overall, this work can be seen as a starting point at theorizing these matters related to these types of males and their situated social location(s). I also think underscoring their unique economic realities—in relationship to their unique “code” is important, as that is where the contribution lies for this submission. Southern code is very distinct from Northern code, etc. But there are even differences among Southern code in the same state. That's why research like this matter—it enlightens us on these developments.   

The geographic significance alongside other factors (especially culture) brings out its powerful intersectional and theoretical relevance to me. This work is vital toward suggesting new ways of intersectionalizing code and broadening masculinity (and by extension fatherhood) throughout the South, but especially for subjects like JC. 

Having the video alongside the essay is enjoyingly complimentary. The video allows us to audio-visually apply the essay in ways, unlike other academic pursuits. It brings out the very essence of qualitative inquiry and forces us to access our innermost senses. The essay's contents concisely and comprehensively get at what the viewer would be watching in the video while allowing them to draw their personal conclusions. It also gives viewers some deep, academic contextualization to consider, which is useful as spectators develop their conclusions. 

Moreover, the video allows for a level of methodological engagement, thus teaching/showing qualitative methods through another light. One can get a strong sense of what it is like in the field, creating synergy with participants, navigating various terrain, etc. This is groundbreaking stuff. I am blown away!

[In response to the Editor’s question, “How do you think such essays should be evaluated?]

They should be evaluated based on their ability to:

  1. Tell a cogent story about what’s going on in the video at a level that is recognizable to anyone watching. Video quality should be clear and accessible. The essay should communicate a logical, orderly narrative of what is depicted in the video. While the story should be accessible to anyone. They should also have some analytical contextualization grounded in broader academic literature/concepts but not overdone, as the main focus should be on the data for these short submissions.

  2. Authors should be sure to substantiate their methodological deployments on a level recognizable to anyone reading the essay. That is, if you engaged ethnography, then one needs to clearly articulate in a clear way that this is what they did—and viewers should be able to see the method upon watching the video. Thus, videos should clearly articulate methodologies in practice.

  3. Authors must make clear the contribution of their submission. Is it a methodological, theoretical, technological, or other kind of contribution to the field? This should come across in the essay. There are various criminologies into which these contributions can certainly fit.

  4. There should be synergy between the video and the essay. Spectators should be able to view both pieces side-by-side and draw personal conclusions effectively and with ease.

[In response to the Editor’s question, “How does the broader genre fit into the wider landscape of criminological inquiry? How does this particular essay fit into the wider landscape of criminological inquiry?”]

This submission certainly combines visual and narrative criminology into one sequence. I think this is an important area for the journal to fill.  It is also groundbreaking for QC to begin publishing such pieces. Qualitative (and other) journals normally do not publish such submissions, yet they are equally important and epistemologically rich, such as this submission. These submissions also provide newcomers to qualitative inquiry a window through which to practice and understand the method. For instance, the videos provide both analytical and praxis frameworks for spectators. They will help to unearth what some may perceive as the “(non)complexity” of qualitative methodologies. I also see a pedagogical contribution with these submissions. Moreover, when combined with the narrative approach inherent in the essays, the end-product is a robust combination of qualitative inquiry congruent to that which is to be expected today. This is a sure approach at decolonizing how research is cultivated and disseminated. QC may as well break ground and lead the way with these riveting submissions.

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