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Implementing ‘Insider’ Ethnography: Lessons From the Public Conversations About HIV/AIDS Project in Rural South Africa

  • 2014
  • Journal Article
Angotti, Nicole & Sennott, Christie

Publication Title: Qualitative Research

Abstract: We describe the conceptualization and implementation of a research methodology in which ‘insider’ community members work with ‘outsider’ investigators as participant observers to document everyday conversations taking place in public settings in their communities. Our study took place in a resource-poor area of rural South Africa and focused on HIV/AIDS, yet we aim here to provide a road map for those interested in implementing this approach in other contexts for various empirical ends. Because this approach is unusual, we highlight considerations in selecting a team of ethnographers, describe the training process, and offer ways to ensure the data collected are trustworthy and confidential. We describe the advantages and limitations of utilizing ‘insider ethnography’ in contexts where being indigenous to the study site provides access to perspectives that cannot be obtained through other methods. Finally, we examine how mutuality and the positionality of the research team affect data collection and quality.


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