Fawcett, Barbara and Hearn, Jeff (2004) Researching others: epistemology, experience, standpoints and participation. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 7 (3). pp. 201-218. ISSN 1364-5579

This article examines the possibility and challenges of carrying out research, especially
qualitative and ethnographically-orientated research, into areas such as gender, disability,
ethnicity and racialization, without the researcher having direct experience of those specific
social divisions and oppressions. Discussion of these questions is framed by four differential
understandings of the concept of ‘otherness’ and linked with debates in the areas of research
methodology, epistemology, ontology and research practices. Issues of experience,
‘standpoint’ and participation are specifically focused on. The resulting discussion leads
to the conclusion that in ‘researching others’ attention has to be paid to historical context
and to the maintenance of a critical relation to the research topic. A sustaining focus on the
self-reflexivity of the researcher as author and the continual interrogation of the social bases
of knowledge, together with a detail understanding of political agendas, are also important.
In paying attention to these aspects of research, materialism and critical discourse analysis
are to be seen as part of the same broad socio-political project rather than as opposing and
mutually exclusive perspectives.

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