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‘I don’t want to be presented as some sort of freak-show … but you’re “one of us”’: Stigmatized groups and decisions to participate in insider/outsider research
Drawing on a piece of mixed-methods research (n = 488), this article uses thematic analysis to examine the responses of women who form part of a stigmatized group (fans of male/male [m/m] sexually explicit media) as to whether and how the investigator’s perceived status as a community insider affected decisions to take part in a wider research project. While there exists a substantial body of work on insider/outsider research, much of it is either reflexive or theoretical in nature, focusing on the nature of the research process and the integrity of the data; very little work systematically asks people taking part in qualitative research how their knowledge of the investigator’s insider/outsider status influenced their decision to take part. While participants in this study acknowledged the existence of both acceptable outsider researchers and unacceptable insider researchers, it is clear from the data presented here that researcher positionality can play a key role in successful recruitment. The results of this study highlight that we need to think not only about how our positionality affects participant responses in qualitative work but also how it affects decisions to take part in studies in the first place. This is of particular importance when we are investigating hard-to-reach, stigmatized or marginal populations with already limited participant pools.
Author affiliationSchool of Criminology, University of Leicester
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