Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 381–399

White-Knuckle Research: Emotional Dynamics in Fieldwork with Racist Activists

  • Kathleen M. Blee


Current understandings of emotions as relational expressions rather than individual states have made it possible to reconsider the role of emotion in the research process. This article proposes two ways that qualitative research on social movements can benefit from greater attention to the emotional dynamics of fieldwork. First, by examining the strategic use of various emotions by informants as well as by researchers, scholars are in a better position to explore how informants and researchers jointly shape knowledge and interpretation in qualitative research. Second, exploration of emotional dynamics in interviewing relationships can be used as data to deepen understanding of both the interpretative process and of the emotional content of social movements. I examine these issues in the context of a life history project with activists in contemporary U.S. racist movements.

fieldwork emotion racism fear 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen M. Blee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh

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