On being a stranger in their midst

I conduct my work and research as a stranger, rather than an outsider (following Simmel’s distinction). When I began research I chose this stance as a methodological framework, partially due to my lack of personal affiliation to what I was studying. For my continuing research and work these reasons...

Full description

Saved in:
Bibliographic Details
Published in:Diskus
Main Author: Van Eck Duymaer Van Twist, Amanda ca. 20./21. Jh.
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Check availability: HBZ Gateway
Journals Online & Print:
Drawer...
Published: [2015]
In:Diskus
Year: 2015, Volume: 17, Issue: 1, Pages: 30-36
Online Access: Volltext (Kostenfrei)
doi
Description
Summary:I conduct my work and research as a stranger, rather than an outsider (following Simmel’s distinction). When I began research I chose this stance as a methodological framework, partially due to my lack of personal affiliation to what I was studying. For my continuing research and work these reasons are reinforced by the requirements for ethical research of my employer. These are, however, not merely default positions; I have learned that being a stranger has research benefits. In a sensitive field it can be helpful to become a trusted stranger rather than an outsider. The stranger is close enough to understand, yet in a contested milieu, the independence associated with a peripheral and essentially extraneous position (to the group’s functioning) may be considered safe, and even imbued with integrity and credibility. Moreover, in a scenario where one may research several faith communities, it has the added benefit of potentially affording credibility in a milieu where affiliation (becoming an insider) can become a stigma, and limit other avenues of access. Finally, the stranger’s perspective is helpful in taking a step back and analysing the wider social situation and dynamics in order to contextualise the research. But, of course, integrity and credibility have to be earned, and building rapport and reputation is a key step. Amanda is the deputy director of Inform, a non-profit information centre specializing in minority religious movements, spiritualities, and fringe political movements, based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in London, UK. She is a sociologist. As part of her work, she has encountered and researched a range of topics and issues dealing with minority and/or new religions. Her publications include contributions on topics such as beliefs in spirit possession and witchcraft, socialisation of children in sectarian new and minority religions, and the methodological challenges of researching and providing information on ‘cults and extremism’.
ISSN:0967-8948
Contains:Enthalten in: Diskus
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.18792/diskus.v17i1.64