Insider? Outsider? Reflections on navigating positionality when researching restorative justice policing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter explores the issue of reflexivity and researcher identity, particularly in relation to the insider/outsider dichotomy in qualitative research. It is important to acknowledge that researcher’s positions are not always stable, nor are they categorised purely by insider/outsider terms: there is a ‘space between’ insider/outsider research (Dwyer and Buckle 2009) and ‘fluidity’ to a researcher’s identity (Thomson and Gunter 2011). This chapter uses my experience of conducting research on an organisation that I worked for, a police force in England and Wales. In some respects, as an employee within the force I held an ‘insider’ status. However, as a member of police staff, and not a police officer, I did not share the same subcultural bonds as those I researched and was therefore also an ‘outsider’. I argue that the reflexive praxis of a ‘two-way street’ whereby there is a mutual and continuous affect between the researcher and the researched (Alvesson and Sköldberg 2009: 79) may be better imagined as a frequently visited ‘roundabout’ for the insider/outsider researcher: one constantly enters, and often exits, each encounter in the field from different positions. Therefore, the fluidity of identity requires the researcher to constantly note the approach they are taking upon entering this ‘reflexive roundabout’. It not only requires consideration of the ways in which the researcher is shaping the research and the research is shaping the researcher, but also an additional awareness that one’s positionality is affecting the reflexive process itself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReflexivity and Criminal Justice
Subtitle of host publicationintersections of policy, practice and research
EditorsSarah Armstrong, Jarrett Blaustein, Henry Alistair
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781137546425
ISBN (Print)9781137546418
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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