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Power and positionality: negotiating insider/outsider status within and across cultures

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Early discussions of insider/outsider status assumed that the researcher was predominately an insider or an outsider and that each status carried with it certain advantages and disadvantages. More recent discussions have unveiled the complexity inherent in either status and have acknowledged that the boundaries between the two positions are not all that clearly delineated. Four case studies – a Black woman interviewing other Black women, Asian graduate students in the US interviewing people from 'back home', an African professor learning from African businesswomen, and a cross-cultural team studying aging in a nonWestern culture – are used as the data base to explore the complexities of researching within and across cultures. Positionality, power, and representation proved to be useful concepts for exploring insider/outsider dynamics.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2001

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