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Type: Journal article
Title: Emotional landscapes; discomfort in the field
Author: Levy, N.
Citation: Qualitative Research Journal, 2016; 16(1):39-50
Publisher: Association of Qualitative Research
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 1443-9883
Statement of
Nadine Levy
Abstract: Purpose –The purpose of this paper is to explore a researcher’s emotions in the field. It argues that a researcher’s emotional responses can lead to insights into certain aspects of participants’ emotional and social worlds, while simultaneously obscuring certain lines of inquiry and limiting data collection. On this basis, the author calls for researchers to maintain a high level of awareness and reflexivity while working with strong emotions in the field. This, the author argues, allows a researcher to remain open to new understandings and address any limitations skilfully and transparently. Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on feminist theory and emerging scholarship pertaining to fieldwork and emotions, this paper examines the methodological dilemmas the author faced in relation to the own subjectivity while carrying out field-work at radical ecovillage in the USA. It analyses sections of the reflexive diary and explores the insights the author gained by remaining aware and reflexive while in the field. Findings – The author demonstrates how feelings of unease, alienation and entrapment prompted to explore new lines of inquiry and, in turn, consider certain emotion rules and ideologies present in the research setting. The author also speculates about the ways such feelings impacted the data collection by obscuring certain phenomena in the field. Research limitations/implications – The author makes a number of practical suggestions about how researchers can work skilfully with emotions in the field. In addition, the author proposes that by remaining mindful of one’s emotional responses valuable lines of questioning and themes may emerge for consideration. Originality/value – This paper contributes to emerging scholarship on the importance of examining a researcher’s experiences and reactions to a research setting in conjunction with other data. It offers a practical example of how this approach can elicit insight into the lives of participants.
Keywords: reflexivity; positionality; qualitative research; emotion work; feminist methodology; field-work
Rights: © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI: 10.1108/QRJ-08-2014-0036
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 8
Gender Studies and Social Analysis publications

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