Being a Foreigner During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Researcher Positionality in Online Interviews


  • Aimi Muranaka University of Duisburg-Essen



international migration, Japanese educational system, online interview, pandemic, researcher positionality


In the project underlying this article, I investigated the shift in the researcher-interviewee relationship in the process of online interviews with migrants in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers in feminist interview methods have discussed the intricate and shifting power dynamics with study participants, while other scholars have examined the advantages and disadvantages of online interviews. However, researchers have not sufficiently analyzed the shifts in positionality that occur during online interviews. Using the concept of "being in the moment," I examined how my online interviews with migrant participants facilitated, prevented, and transformed my positionality as a researcher in relation to them while I performed fieldwork during COVID-19. My main findings were that both the participants and I were able to share background information prior to the interviews due to the prevalence of social networking services (SNSs) after the outbreak of the pandemic. This alleviated the potential distance created through the research. Furthermore, the migrants and I found commonalities as foreigners living through the pandemic. Thus, I concluded that online interviews provide opportunities for the researcher and interviewees to seek commonalities through sharing various social and professional moments during the research process.



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Author Biography

Aimi Muranaka, University of Duisburg-Essen

Aimi MURANAKA is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen. Her research interests include skilled migration in Asia (mainly Japan and Vietnam), the marketing of international migration, and migration brokerage.


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How to Cite

Muranaka, A. (2024). Being a Foreigner During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Researcher Positionality in Online Interviews. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 25(1).



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