Negotiating Positionality in Ethnographic Investigations of Workplace Settings: Student, Consultant or Confidante?

  • Dorte Lønsmann
Part of the Communicating in Professions and Organizations book series (PSPOD)


“All researchers are positioned whether they write about it explicitly, separately, or not at all” (Chiseri-Strater, 1996, 115). Ethnographic researchers are not supposed to be neutral observers, but are very much part of the research process. As such, the ethnographer herself becomes part of the data collection process, and the relationship between researcher and informants becomes a part of the process as well. This means that we as researchers need to reflect on the research process, including our own position as researchers. One reason why this is important is because our way of positioning ourselves as researchers influences what we have access to. As Chiseri-Strater puts it: “Ethnographies that omit the methodology of doing fieldwork disappoint me, because this information can reveal what a researcher was positioned to see, to know, and to understand” (123). In other words, what we see — or what we are allowed to see — depends on where we stand and who we are in that moment. By reflecting on this positioning in our work, we are providing important contextual information on the status and value of our research.


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