The Space Between: On Being an Insider-Outsider in Qualitative Research

Sonya Corbin Dwyer, Jennifer L Buckle


Should qualitative researchers be members of the population they are studying, or should they not? Although this issue has been explored within the context of qualitative research, it has generally been reserved for discussions of observation, field research, and ethnography. The authors expand that discussion and explore membership roles by illustrating the insider status of one author and the outsider status of the other when conducting research with specific parent groups. The strengths and challenges of conducting qualitative research from each membership status are examined. Rather than consider this issue from a dichotomous perspective, the authors explore the notion of the space between that allows researchers to occupy the position of both insider and outsider rather than insider or outsider.

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