Sociologists and qualitative researchers have engaged in an extensive debate about the merits of researchers being “outsiders” or “insiders” to the communities they study. Recent research has attempted to move beyond a strict outsider/insider dichotomy to emphasize the relative nature of researchers' identities, depending on the specific research context. Using the Institute for Community-Based Research in Mississippi as a case study, this article presents findings from qualitative interviews with academic researchers and community partners involved in four different research projects. These findings examine how researchers and community partners characterize researchers’ identities and the impact that those identities have on the community-based research outcomes in different research contexts. The article also includes recommendations for researchers who are working in communities where they are likely to be considered outsiders.

Publication Date