Cultural "Insiders" and the Issue of Positionality in Qualitative Migration Research: Moving "Across" and Moving "Along" Researcher-Participant Divides
Positionality has, to-date, been conceptualised by social scientists as a central component in the process of qualitative (and to an extent quantitative) data collection. This paper intends to build upon this conceptualisation by reflecting upon the influence that class and generation can have on qualitative migration research. Specifically, the authors argue that being insiders in the social interview is much more complex and multi-faceted than usually recognised. They also claim that, to a large extent, interviewing within one's own "cultural" community—as an insider—affords the researcher a degree of social proximity that, paradoxically, increases awareness amongst both researcher and participant of the social divisions that exist between them. The authors will use the case of an Italian researcher interviewing Italian migrants in Nottingham (UK) and a British researcher interviewing British migrants in Paris (France) to illustrate this. In doing so they will first highlight the way in which researchers may "move-up" socio-economically when interviewing, but will also stress that whilst such movement is possible—through strategies of constructing rapport—a certain power imbalance is inevitable. Second, the authors will highlight, through reference to notions of the adopted insider and impartial observer, the way in which interviewers can (at least partially) "move across" generational divides within the migrant community. This methodological reflection is designed to aid and improve future research conducted from "inside" the migrant community.
positionality; migration; qualitative; interview; insider