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Researchers as dirty workers: cautionary tales on insider-outsider dynamics

Researchers as dirty workers: cautionary tales on insider-outsider dynamics Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the relatively hidden phenomenon of researchers who not only study dirty work but who also occupy the position of dirty workers. Drawing on the sociological debate on insider-outsider categories in research, this paper describes how these types of “dirty work/er researchers” understand and negotiate their occupational subjectivity and the methodological and epistemological resources they bring to their research practice. Design/methodology/approach – Two biographical narratives from different types of “dirty work/er researchers” are analysed using a feminist epistemology of corporeality, social difference and power. Findings – Ambivalence is an underlying dynamic of the narratives which indicate that the stigma attached to certain types of dirty work histories act to both facilitate and constrain research practice. Ambivalence disrupts strict binary categories often relied on in research such as insiders and outsiders, empowered and powerless and researcher and Other. Research limitations/implications – The experiences of “dirty work/er researchers” indicate a need to reconsider ethical, methodological, epistemological issues within social research. Practical implications – Participatory research frameworks such as peer research should pay closer attention to issues of professional status, power and risk. Further research is required on what happens after peer researchers leave the field. Originality/value – This paper contributes to the knowledge of the relatively hidden world of the “dirty work/er researcher”, their occupational experiences and the methodological and epistemological resources they bring to their job. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal Emerald Publishing

Researchers as dirty workers: cautionary tales on insider-outsider dynamics

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1746-5648
DOI
10.1108/QROM-01-2013-1129
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the relatively hidden phenomenon of researchers who not only study dirty work but who also occupy the position of dirty workers. Drawing on the sociological debate on insider-outsider categories in research, this paper describes how these types of “dirty work/er researchers” understand and negotiate their occupational subjectivity and the methodological and epistemological resources they bring to their research practice. Design/methodology/approach – Two biographical narratives from different types of “dirty work/er researchers” are analysed using a feminist epistemology of corporeality, social difference and power. Findings – Ambivalence is an underlying dynamic of the narratives which indicate that the stigma attached to certain types of dirty work histories act to both facilitate and constrain research practice. Ambivalence disrupts strict binary categories often relied on in research such as insiders and outsiders, empowered and powerless and researcher and Other. Research limitations/implications – The experiences of “dirty work/er researchers” indicate a need to reconsider ethical, methodological, epistemological issues within social research. Practical implications – Participatory research frameworks such as peer research should pay closer attention to issues of professional status, power and risk. Further research is required on what happens after peer researchers leave the field. Originality/value – This paper contributes to the knowledge of the relatively hidden world of the “dirty work/er researcher”, their occupational experiences and the methodological and epistemological resources they bring to their job.

Journal

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 8, 2014

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