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Accessing All Areas? Interviewing and Researching Within and Outside Difference

By: Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study is set against the backdrop of field work and research I conducted during my PhD. My doctoral thesis explored the intersections of race, medical sociology, and embodied experiences of health, risk, and ethnicity, later published in a monograph titled Health, Ethnicity and Diabetes: Racialised Constructions of “Risky” South Asian Bodies, with Palgrave Macmillan. For the research, I carried out interviews, participant observation, and ethnography with British South Asian people in several locations around England. One of the consistent central questions that I found myself both asking and strategically ignoring was “How do I get access to these groups,” in the knowledge that the category “these” both constituted my own current identities and a historical, lived, experiential identity, located in migration, nationality, language, ethno-religious identity, and class. This case study, therefore, both looks back at my experience of carrying out the research and re-narrates what the access and non-access to people’s cultural lives and worlds come to mean in research. I also attempt to situate the learning from this within a wider framing of the uncertainty that is present in all research. The sense and understanding of connection between researchers and participants should be viewed as an opportunity to embark on a relational understanding of social phenomena and the need to be open to the possibilities of connections between aspects of our identities as processual features of the research.

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