Too Good At Fitting In: Methodological Consequences and Ethical Adjustments

Oct. 01, 2014

Source: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Volume 27, Issue 10, 2014, pages 1205-1225

This article explores the use of the author's own self-presentation as a method of gaining physical and social access to ethnographic sorority spaces.

Presentations of self become particularly important when the culture under study maintains narrowly defined expectations for personal appearance and behavior.
The more defined the expectations, the more important it is for the researcher to “read” those expectations and make deliberate choices concerning her appearance, body language, use of language, and overall style.
Such choices can have tangible consequences concerning a researcher’s access to the field, in regard to both the physical access of the spaces and the social access of the lived experiences of participants within those spaces.
The article then considers the methodological consequences that may ensue when a researcher becomes “too good at fitting in.”

Updated: Mar. 16, 2015