The intimate insider: Negotiating the ethics of friendship when doing insider research
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Favoured by ethnographers with some degree of closeness to the culture they wish to examine, the cultural participant as insider researcher has become relatively commonplace across the humanities. A large body of methodological literature now exists on this, highlighting the advantages and some of the dilemmas of conducting insider research. This literature is not exhaustive, as there remain elements of insider research still underdeveloped, such as how one goes about negotiating previously established friendships and intimate relationships in this context. Indeed, what are the benefits and dilemmas engendered by such negotiations? Drawing on existing scholarly accounts of field-based friendship and the author's experiences of researching queer culture as an insider, this article addresses these questions in relation to the author's field of inquiry and to social research paradigms more broadly. Subsequently, it argues that while being intimately inside one's field does offer significant advantages, it also reshapes the researcher's role in and experiences of her own culture and those within it.
Copyright 2011 SAGE Publications. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Sociological Methodology and Research Methods