Session 9

B3 Social Inequality in Field Work – Handling Reseachers’ Positionality in Research

In contrast to the natural sciences, the social sciences face the challenge that researchers are always part of their research field and therefore have a social position within the field – this does not only relate to one’s positioning in the world system (e.g. being from the Global South or the Global North) but also to other dimensions of social inequality (e.g. class, gender, age, race and ethnicity, religion, caste etc.). The session explores how researchers’ positionality does not only influence the way of doing research but also field work in the sense of how the field reacts to them. Papers in this session can either use specific research fields and localities as example or discuss specific issues on a general level. They should not only address how social inequality is related to field work but make suggestions of how to handle it, asking questions such as: Who can get access to which field and how? Who is excluded? During data collection and field work, how will the people in the field react to which type of researcher? Who is classified as insider, who as outsider and why? Which types of positionality are specific fields particularly sensitive to and why? What are the markers of this positionality (e.g. language, clothing, body types)? Is it better to be an insider, or are there specific advantages to being an outsider? What types of results do insiders and outsiders produce?