Valerie Jenness Jenness opens a portal into her experience conducting transgender inmate and sexual assault research in California men’s prisons. She frankly discusses the complexities involved in interviewing respondents behind prison walls, and reﬂ ects on managing the collision between a researcher’s curiosity and the contraints of systematic data collection. Jenness explains how traversing the basic/applied divide is achievable and offers insight into obtaining self- respect, and respect from others in the ﬁ eld
Perhaps it began in graduate school when I developed a sociological interest in processes of marginalization and how those who live in-or at least move in and out of-the margins manage, make sense of the world, and occasionally change it. Studying the prostitutes’ rights movement as a dissertation project that resulted in a fi rst book (Jenness 1993) only fueled this interest, eff ectively raising for me many more questions than it answered about the social production of cultural and legal boundaries and the profound consequences attached to both. Likewise, years of thinking and writing about hate crime (e.g., Jenness and Grattet 2001) has further nurtured my interest in how we routinely divide ourselves along some axes of diff erentiation (and not others), normalize those diff erences, and use them as a reason for
domination. Th e power of essentializing-rather than complicating and appreciating-social diff erence ignites my sociological imagination.