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Researching sensitive topics when the participants are stigmatized, the culture is value-laden and the researcher is an insider-outsider

Researching sensitive topics when the participants are stigmatized, the culture is value-laden... This paper aims to revisit the debate on the insider-outsider positionality of the researcher in conducting qualitative research by highlighting the challenges of researching sexual harassment and harassment among stigmatized or hidden groups of individuals in a culturally value-laden backdrop in South Asia.Design/methodology/approachThe authors drew on a bricolage of methods to analyze and write this paper. First, the authors borrowed from the case study approach to select three research projects that would shed light on the argument raised in the study. Then, narratives, together with self and critical reflexivity were used to write reflective narratives, which served as data for this paper. Next, the authors used the thematic analysis method to analyze the reflective narratives. Finally, the authors drew from literature and the experiences to provide recommendations for the challenges thus identified.FindingsThe critical reflections highlight three overarching challenges the authors encountered as insider-outsiders in researching a sensitive topic among stigmatized/hidden groups in a value-laden cultural backdrop: 1) difficulty in recruitment, 2) internalized gender norms and 3) unconscious biases. Based on these challenges, the authors posit that what is pertinent is not whether a researcher is an insider, outsider or in-betweener per se, but how to maximize benefits and minimize pitfalls of being an insider or outsider and employing other means of overcoming the drawbacks. The authors also claim that being more sensitive to the culture, reflexive, flexible and experienced would help overcome challenges faced when conducting research of this nature as insiders-outsiders.Originality/valueThere appears to be little empirically derived inquiry on the insider-outsider positionality of the researchers at the intersection of sensitive topics, stigmatized participants and culture. Our reflections and suggestions address this lacuna while revisiting the simplistic use of insider-outsider dichotomy and proposing other means to overcome the drawbacks brought on by the researcher positionality. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal Emerald Publishing

Researching sensitive topics when the participants are stigmatized, the culture is value-laden and the researcher is an insider-outsider

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1746-5648
DOI
10.1108/qrom-12-2020-2079
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper aims to revisit the debate on the insider-outsider positionality of the researcher in conducting qualitative research by highlighting the challenges of researching sexual harassment and harassment among stigmatized or hidden groups of individuals in a culturally value-laden backdrop in South Asia.Design/methodology/approachThe authors drew on a bricolage of methods to analyze and write this paper. First, the authors borrowed from the case study approach to select three research projects that would shed light on the argument raised in the study. Then, narratives, together with self and critical reflexivity were used to write reflective narratives, which served as data for this paper. Next, the authors used the thematic analysis method to analyze the reflective narratives. Finally, the authors drew from literature and the experiences to provide recommendations for the challenges thus identified.FindingsThe critical reflections highlight three overarching challenges the authors encountered as insider-outsiders in researching a sensitive topic among stigmatized/hidden groups in a value-laden cultural backdrop: 1) difficulty in recruitment, 2) internalized gender norms and 3) unconscious biases. Based on these challenges, the authors posit that what is pertinent is not whether a researcher is an insider, outsider or in-betweener per se, but how to maximize benefits and minimize pitfalls of being an insider or outsider and employing other means of overcoming the drawbacks. The authors also claim that being more sensitive to the culture, reflexive, flexible and experienced would help overcome challenges faced when conducting research of this nature as insiders-outsiders.Originality/valueThere appears to be little empirically derived inquiry on the insider-outsider positionality of the researchers at the intersection of sensitive topics, stigmatized participants and culture. Our reflections and suggestions address this lacuna while revisiting the simplistic use of insider-outsider dichotomy and proposing other means to overcome the drawbacks brought on by the researcher positionality.

Journal

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 30, 2022

Keywords: Cultural sensitivity; Insider-outsider; Reflexivity; Stigmatized groups; Sensitive topics; Recruitment; Gender roles; Unconscious biases

References