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Arts & CultureSociety

Birds of a feather (don’t always) flock together

Critical Reflexivity of ‘Outsiderness’ as an ‘Insider’ doing qualitative research with one’s ‘Own People’


The article presents self-reflexive elaborations of negotiating ‘outsider’ positionalities as an ‘insider’ conducting a qualitative study of first-and-second-generation Nigerian diaspora communities in London, United Kingdom (UK) and the implications of this for the methodological documentation and interpretation of the research process and of the perspicuity of participants’ realities.

Within the conceptual framing of ‘critical reflexivity’, this article details the author’s thoughtful consciousness and evaluation of the impact of his positionality—notably his outsiderness, and the biases, presuppositions and awkwardness accompanying this at each research stage.

From formulating the research topic, methodological design and participant identification/recruitment, to data collection and analysis, this article reiterates the centrality of researcher reflexivity in qualitative inquiries of one’s ‘own people’. It concludes that while critical reflexivity affords a sensitivity and attention to challenges around methodological rigour and ethical research, ethnoracialised sameness between researchers and their supposed ‘own people’ is not always complementary, ideal and productive.

This article makes important and original contributions to positionality debates in its specific application to the Nigerian diaspora advancing Black scholarship in the social sciences.

Image credit: @wocintechchat (unsplash)
Project status: Completed

Principal Investigator