Review Essay: Defying Insider-Outsider Categorization: One Researcher's Fluid and Complicated Positioning on the Insider-Outsider Continuum


  • Karen Eppley Penn State University



insider-outsider, Amish, Anabaptist, ethnography, qualitative research, researcher positioning


In Writing the Amish: The Worlds of John A. Hostetler, WEAVER-ZERCHER compiles key ethnographic works which reflect HOSTETLER's role as a Pennsylvania Old Order Amish and a scholar-mediator of Amish culture. This project originated from the late HOSTETLER's unfinished book, part auto-biography, part scholarly review. Essays and commentaries contextualize and expand HOSTETLER's original discussions of Amish culture and social science, showing HOSTETLER's development from advocate to anthropologist across decades of publications. HOSTETLER describes the origins of this journey as he describes his family's shunning from the Peachy Amish church and his own calling, not to join the Amish church as a young adult, but to pursue academic learning instead. Using WEAVER-ZERCHER's text as an example, I offer a re-conceptualization of insider/outsider positioning, not as a fixed and binary positioning, but an unsettled, tenuous positionality situated within a continuum. The book offers a unique example of the problematic conceptualization of researcher positioning as either insider or outsider. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0603161


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Author Biography

Karen Eppley, Penn State University

Karen EPPLEY is a doctoral candidate in curriculum and instruction at Penn State University. Her current research interests include poststructural feminist ethnography, rural communities and the Old Order Amish.




How to Cite

Eppley, K. (2006). Review Essay: Defying Insider-Outsider Categorization: One Researcher’s Fluid and Complicated Positioning on the Insider-Outsider Continuum. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(3).