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Researching Race in a White Space: Negotiating Interviews at White-Wedding Shows in England

By: & Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Our research methods case focuses on how, as researchers, we negotiated the topic of race in recruiting participants and conducting interviews for a study about the cultural reproduction of Whiteness at wedding fairs in the United Kingdom. Here, we describe some of the challenges and difficulties we encountered in the course of our fieldwork, including the designing and re-designing of our research tools, negotiating for interviews, and handling difficult interview exchanges. Although semi-structured interviews are commonly used by qualitative researchers in the social sciences, we highlight some of its shortcomings as a tool to investigating issues of race in a White space. Specifically, we draw on the various obstacles that we encountered in conducting this research. These include dilemmas on condensing interview time and questions and yet gathering substantial information for analysis, the challenges of recruitment at a busy event like a wedding fair, dealing with challenging behavior and refusals to participate, challenges of talking about race in a White space, and dealing with outright racist participants. We reflect on our experiences and draw attention to how this project compelled us to introspect on our own assumptions and biases as researchers while exposing the existent racism in a “color-blind” society.

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