Moving beyond ‘insider or outsider’: The ethnographic challenges of researching elite sport facilities in New Zealand

Sturm, D
Kerr, Roslyn
Conference Contribution - published
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::3904 Specialist studies in education , ANZSRC::4405 Gender studies , ANZSRC::4410 Sociology
Recently, several researchers have highlighted the difficulty with the binary terms “insider-outsider” (see for example, Corbin, Dwyer and Buckle, 2009; Paetcher, 2012; Kerstetter, 2012) within qualitative research. In this presentation, we similarly critique the, at times, overly simplistic insider/outsider binary and argue for recognising the greater forms of fluidity, oscillation and blurred relationships at play for researchers’ researching within leisure spaces. Indeed, one of our key arguments is a greater recognition for the forms of reflexivity and strategy that are enacted and enabled by researchers to negotiate and navigate the diverse spaces, people and practices encountered during the research process. To furnish this approach, we turn to Bourdieu’s theoretical framework, particularly around notions of the field and capital in its varying forms, offering an alternative means for comparing and understanding the two researcher’s ethnographic accounts of researching sports facilities in New Zealand. One of the ethnographers, Damion, describes himself as closer to an outsider than an insider in the context of the velodrome he was examining, while the other researcher, Roslyn, describes herself as an insider in the field of gymnastics. However, both found their assumed ‘insider/outsider’ position was never static either.Rather, this positioning was always context-dependent and reliant upon how their own assumed forms of capital could be deployed, read or recognised, or how it could be reflexively negotiated to further contribute to their status, access and the shared meaning-making with various people within these spaces. Through comparing their ethnographic accounts, we illustrate how the language of insider/outsider can be limiting. Alternatively, our presentation will also highlight how both researchers deployed forms of capital and reflexive strategies to more fluidity straddle these varying positions during their daily encounters; particularly with the research itself taking place within a hierarchical binary of elite/community sports spaces.
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