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At home in the field, in the field at home? Reflections on power and fieldwork in familiar settings

Bilgen, Arda and Fábos, Anita H. (2023) At home in the field, in the field at home? Reflections on power and fieldwork in familiar settings. Qualitative Research. ISSN 1468-7941 (In Press)

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Identification Number: 10.1177/14687941231206770


Critical epistemologies and methodologies have over time challenged the static and mono-dimensional approaches to fieldwork, allowing researchers to contemplate and conduct their research in spaces of in-betweenness. Despite this important shift, the essentialist idea that both ‘the field’ and ‘home’ in a fieldwork setting must be actual places persists. In this article, we challenge the conceptualization and operationalization of ‘home’ not only as the juxtaposition to ‘the field’, but also as the embodiment of a place in a specific temporality. We argue that the postulation of ‘home’ as a constant disregards the non-predetermined and unpredictable nature of fieldwork relationships that are often complicated by implicit and explicit power dynamics, especially in places researchers identify as ‘home’. We demonstrate that unequal power relations, especially (1) between the Global North and Global South, (2) between majority and minoritized groups, (3) among genders, and (4) between elites and non-elites, require us to envisage ‘the field’ and ‘home’ in relative terms. We propose the reconceptualization of fieldwork place as a hybridized space that conjoins ‘the field’ and ‘home’ as ‘field-home’, particularly at a time when research mobility is restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this way, we extend the literature on issues related to power, positionality and reflexivity in qualitative research, and provide practical insights for those preparing for fieldwork.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s).
Divisions: Middle East Centre
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2023 09:30
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2024 20:24

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