"Inside" and "Outside" of What or Where? Researching Migration Through Multi-Positionalities


  • Louise Ryan Middlesex University




interview dynamics, ethnic lens, multi-positionalities, gender, Ireland, Poland


Drawing upon my long experience of qualitative migration research, this article uses the concept of "multiple positionalities", to challenge the fixity of positionality underpinning constructions of "insiders" versus "outsiders" in the research process. While "insider" status is usually associated with shared ethnicity/ nationality, migration studies have been urged to go beyond the ethnic lens (AMELINA & FAIST, 2012; GLICK SCHILLER & CAGLAR, 2009). I argue that migrants cannot be neatly contained within fixed "insider" ethnic categories; instead it is more illuminating to consider how identities are re-constructed through migration. In this contribution I use moments from a range of research studies with migrant women in London. In comparing and contrasting my encounters with these migrants, who come from Ireland and Poland, I critically reflect upon how empathy and rapport were negotiated through dynamic rhythms of positionalities—gender, age, professional and parental status and migratory experience, as well as nationality. In so doing, I consider the challenges but also the opportunities of researching within as well as across migrant populations and how this may inform an attempt to go beyond the ethnic lens.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1502175


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Author Biography

Louise Ryan, Middlesex University

Louise RYAN, Dr., is professor of sociology and co-director of the Social Policy Research Centre, Middlesex University, London. She is programme leader for the MSc. in research methods, and module leader in research design, process and ethics. She is a member of Research Ethics Committee. She is currently working on an ESRC funded project on highly skilled French migrants in London (with Dr. Jon MULHOLLAND). Her research interests encompass gender, migration, ethnicity, religion and identity, social networks, social movements and transnational families. She teaches research methods and migration.




How to Cite

Ryan, L. (2015). "Inside" and "Outside" of What or Where? Researching Migration Through Multi-Positionalities. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 16(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-16.2.2333



Researcher, Migrant, Woman: Methodological Implications of Multiple Positionalities in Migration Studies