Positionality: Scientific Method and Research

Topics: Scientific method, Research, Emic and etic Pages: 13 (3348 words) Published: January 2, 2009


In Partnership with University of Wales, Lampeter

A Critical Review of My Positionality and Its Impact On The Research I Undertake

Business Research Methods

Submitted By: - Suraj Rai

Student ID: - 072078 - 77

University ID: - 27003380

In this paper I have tried to explain the concept of positionality and its various parameters like emic and etic, positivist, interpretivist, empiricist and rationalist, constructivist and reductionist. Then, I tried to analyze my positionality on the basis of these points and how these will effect on the research that I select and the methodologies that I choose. Society in which I grew up, religion, beliefs, norms and values that I accepted, race, language, educational background, and the work experience gained will give a certain unique shape to my behavior and perception that guides my personality. These are various factors that define my positionality and it will certainly affect the type of research that I choose and the way how I undertake the research. Besides, the population and sampling that we have chosen for the study will also matter upon our positionality. How a researcher will see towards the people (samples) of the study and how they will react to the researcher will affect the quality of research significantly. Each and everyone differ in terms of positionality due to their uniqueness and we should avoid the impact of positionality over the research that we undertake to give the fair enough to the outcome of the research.

Table of contents

The Title1
Literature Review2
Positivism verses Interpretivism Approach:2
Emic verses Etic Approach:3
Empiricism Verses Rationalism:4
Constructivism and Reductionism:4
Main Argument5

The Title

Please provide a critical review of your own positionality and how this may impact on any research you undertake.


The main aim of this work is to explore and understand the term ‘positionality’, review research philosophy, an explore and a critical review of my own positionality and how it influences, affects or impacts on the research that I undertake.

Different social scientists have explained how different aspects of the society and the personality of the researcher can affect objectives of research which has provided me a lead while I was trying to study my positionality and have referred to those works throughout this report.

I have in-depth literature review of different authors, and argued my views, discussed and presented my conclusion sequentially in this report.


Every individual has different sets of values, perceptions and beliefs. Due to this different set of ideology affects how someone thinks but also and how someone performs work. In addition to that, the way a person grows up, cultural background, educational background, religion and previous work experiences also have greater influence on any kind of work that a person conducts. So, positionality as defined by Maher and Terteault (1994) ‘knower's specific position in any context as defined by race, gender, class, and other socially significant dimensions’.

In research the positionality of the researcher can significantly influence how the data is gathered and how the gathered data is analyzed and interpreted to information. It is important for any researcher to critically analyze about their positionalities, to ask important questions about the ways in which these are negotiated in practice and to question how this relates to issues of positional biasness (Hopkins, 2007).

Literature Review

There are various literatures available on the issue causes and effect of positional biasness in research. According to Scheurich (1994) ‘one's historical position, one's class (which may or...

References: Creswell, J. (1998) Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Denzin, N. K. (1989) Interpretive biography Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Harding, S. (1987) Is there a feminist method? in (Ed.) S. Harding, Feminism and Methodology Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Hopkins, P. E., (2007) Postionality and Knowledge: Negotiating Ethics in Practice in (ed) ACME editorial collective, An International E-Journal for critical geographies, 6 (3), p. 386-394.
Mehra, B. (2002) Bias in qualitative research: Voices from an online classroom [online] available at: http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR7-1/mehra.html [Accessed 23 March 2008]
Mullins, Laurie J
Sarantakos, S. (2005) Social Research Palgrave Macmillan.
Saunders, M. Lewis, P. and Tornhill, A. (2003) Research Methods for Business Students, Prentice Hall.
Scheurich, J. J. (1994) Social relativism: A postmodernist epistemology for educational administration in (Ed.) S. J. Maxcy Postmodern school leadership: Meeting the crisis in educational administration (p. 17-46). Westport, CT: Praeger.
Archer, L. (2003) Race, masculinity and schooling: Muslim boys and education. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Jackson, P. (1993) Changing ourselves: A geography of position in (ed) R.J. Johnston, The Challenge for Geography, A Changing World: A Changing Discipline. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Kobayashi, A. (2003) GPC ten years on: Is self-reflexivity enough? Gender, Place and Culture.
Kothari, C.R. (2005) Research Methodology New Age International Pvt Ltd.
Saunders M., Lewis P., Thornhill A. (2007) Research Methods for Business Studnets, Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.
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