Researching Ethnicities and Cultures
Researching ethnicities and cultures using an ethnographic perspective is not an easy matter. In the first place, there is the question as to whether the researcher should investigate ethnic and cultural formations as an in-group or out-group member. In the former guise there is the well-known risk of missing what is strange about the familiar. The latter stance lays the researcher open to accusations of inauthenticity and of fundamentally misunderstanding, patronising or misrepresenting the group under study. This problem is particularly marked where the group concerned has historically suffered severe forms of domination, racism and stereotyping. Linked to these difficulties, are those concerning ways in which research data can be elicited in the least exploitative fashion and judging what degree of prominence should be given to the direct expression of the world view of the research informants. Despite these potential impediments, this chapter sets out (i) why it is nevertheless important to carry out such research in Britain (ii) some of the difficulties involved (iii) how my research addresses these problems.
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