Outsider Indigenous Research: Dancing the Tightrope Between Etic and Emic Perspectives


  • Felicia Darling Monterey County Office of Education




mixed methods, outsider research, etic, emic, mathematics education


With an example of a single study, I describe the strategic application of etic and emic approaches (in outsider research) to incorporate more insider perspectives. I introduce an iterative methodological model that instantiates the etic and emic theories into methodological practices. The model centers on the concept of methodological flexibility (methods that flex to accommodate insider perspectives). Reframing the balancing etic and emic perspectives in terms of the iterative model and methodological flexibility achieves two goals. Firstly, it supports the process of researcher reflexivity. Secondly, it enables a practical discussion of methodological adaptations that encourage emic perspectives throughout all phases of a study: design, data collection, and analysis. Drawing from my mixed methods study in the Yucatán, I further describe the model for balancing the two polar perspectives. Practical methodological recommendations made could inform other studies conducted by outsiders in indigenous or other communities.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs160364


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Author Biography

Felicia Darling, Monterey County Office of Education

Dr. Felicia DARLING is currently the education specialist in mathematics at the Monterey County Office of Education in Salinas, California, USA. She is a Fulbright Scholar who received her PhD in mathematics education from Stanford University in 2016. Her research focuses on teacher beliefs and practices that promote math achievement for students who are historically underserved, such as non-native English speakers, students with unique approaches to learning math, ethnic/racial minorities, indigenous students, and socioeconomically disadvantaged students.




How to Cite

Darling, F. (2016). Outsider Indigenous Research: Dancing the Tightrope Between Etic and Emic Perspectives. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 17(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-17.3.2538



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