Unit of analysis and theory selection

In document Normalizing the Natural A study of menstrual product destigmatization Klintner, Louise (Page 79-82)

3. Methodological and

3.3. Research design

3.3.2. Unit of analysis and theory selection

First and foremost, the unit of analysis in this study comprises the factors affecting the process of destigmatization in the menstrual product field. As argued by Langley (1999), studying processes can be a fruitful way to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics in organizations, and, I argue, in their related fields. These dynamics essentially include the experiences of those in the field. In order to understand these, it is equally important to acknowledge that experiences and that which they collectively prevail in, such as organization and organizational fields, are socially constructed (Gioia, Corley & Hamilton, 2013). Accordingly, I placed focus on understanding how my respondents understand and construct their experiences in the field, rather than solely on the frequency of certain occurrences or descriptions in my data.

In order to study this process, I found it most logical to speak to those previously or currently active in the menstrual product field, with insight about how it works, the pivotal events that have shaped its development, and with established

relationships with others in the field. Additionally, I wanted to speak to those who could have been or could in the future take part in a standardization process in order to learn more about why it had not occurred to date, what the response to a standardization initiation would be, how a potential startup of such a process would go, who would be interested, why and why not, and so on. An important aspect to address in the interviews became matters associated with respondents’

perceptions about how the field had developed over time. These could be addressed through questions concerning how their work had changed since they began, whether they noticed any changes in social aspects around their work, especially in different social settings, such as talking about their work outside of work, or how they communicate about their work in marketing purposes.

Much of the identification of my respondents took place through desk research as well as through snowball sampling, which started during my pilot study and continued throughout the research process until my last interview to date, which was held in March 2020. The snowball sampling started off as 1) an investigation of my supervisor’s and my professional and private social networks; 2) contacting and securing interviews with relevant representatives of those actors; 3) interviewing representatives to gain an understanding of their experiences, understandings of, and attitudes toward standardization of menstrual products and their contents; 4) confirming respondents’ participation in future interviews for the data collection of my main study; 5) identifying useful theory that can aid in understanding the concepts relevant to the unit of analysis, and subsequent creation of a framework to test in the main part of the study (Bryman & Bell, 2011; Yin, 1994).

When identifying the unit of analysis during the pilot study, it quickly became clear that there are many actors across sectors that are relevant to the potential standardization of the contents of menstrual products, within the scope of Sweden. 1) On the supply side, there are the manufacturers and distributors of menstrual products, specific actors including four of the largest companies, globally: Essity, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, and Procter & Gamble (Euromonitor, 2016). 2) Smaller brands including e.g., Coop, Renée Voltaire, Ellen AB, Natracare, Your Happy Period, Ica, Swedish Pharmacies, Next Period, etc. (Hanssoon, 2010; Råd&Rön, 2016). 3) Politicians, governmental authorities, and departments including the Swedish Chemicals Agency, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the National Board of Trade, etc. 4) Standardizing bodies

such as SIS (Swedish Standards Institute), CEN (European Committee for Standardization), ISO (International Organization for Standardization), etc. 5) Consumers and consumer collectives e.g., the Swedish Consumer’s Association and Sveriges Konsumenter (Swedish Consumer Agency, another consumer interest organization), 6) the healthcare industry including obstetricians and gynecologists. 7) the judiciary including lawyers, courts, and judges; and 8) the media. During the pilot study, I was able to conclude which sectors and actors were most beneficial to focus on, considering accessibility, relevance to the case and primary Swedish context, and knowledgeability, which is often connected to prior involvement in the issue.

With regard to delimitating the phenomenon of interest, I decided it would be more fruitful to understand the more recent developments in the process of destigmatization, as it has advanced so rapidly and thus may display factors representing intensified efforts toward destigmatization. This prioritization was made over studying a lengthier process, where fewer relative efforts would be emphasized, and perhaps with less direct linkage toward destigmatization, such as various feminist movement breakthroughs. As my respondents frequently discussed Liv Strömquist’s radio program on menstruation as one of the most pivotal events setting off the significant intensification of discourse on menstruation in Sweden, I decided to start my timeline in that same year, 2013, with the endpoint being the publication of this thesis.

As the final part of the pilot study, I used my findings to determine which theory could provide an instrumental perspective in understanding and explaining my unit of analysis (Yin, 1994). Because my unit of analysis relates to an ongoing process in an organizational field and the nature of stigma as a social construction engrained in culture, such as institutions, I found that the most useful perspective theory is stigma theory, which is the main focus of the study. With support from neo-institutional theory to understand the dynamics of a field, I hope to complement stigma theory where it has yet to be applied to a greater extent. The concept of an organizational field, as opposed to related terms such as industry or market, does not limit the scope to interactions between organizations; rather it includes potentially relevant peripheral stakeholders as well as the contextual environment within which they act (e.g., DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Djelic &

Sahlin-Andersson, 2006; Eriksson-Zetterquist, 2009).

This view will provide a template for the creation of a framework that can aid in the theoretical understanding of the factors that contribute to the destigmatization of menstrual products, which then in turn can be tested empirically and subsequently analyzed and revised (Yin, 1994). Consequently, the study pertains to a number of research domains, as previous research is sparse in the area of effects of stigma and destigmatization on fields; thus, a synthesis of relevant topics is applied. These include research on stigma, stigmatized products, the menstrual stigma, institutional fields, deinstitutionalization, social movements, institutional entrepreneurship, etc. First and foremost, I aim to contribute to the theoretical domains of product stigma and to a more limited extent, also institutional change.

In document Normalizing the Natural A study of menstrual product destigmatization Klintner, Louise (Page 79-82)