An outsider-researcher’s tale: The paradox of studying ‘my own people’ from a peripheral position, perspective and context

Alea Ann F. Macam


This article reports on my experiences as a novice researcher as I traverse the challenges of being a postgraduate international student while conducting fieldwork in my own country. While my research aimed to determine the strategies of five public elementary school principals who facilitated school turnaround and the political and economic factors that influenced their strategic decision-making, I will demonstrate how I found myself on the ‘outside’ as a researcher as I studied ‘my own people’ in ‘my own context’. I discuss how I practised researcher reflexivity to deal with the challenges posed by being an outsider in the research processes characterised by my status as a postgraduate student studying abroad and a former private school teacher. I also consider how reflexivity was central to the critical lens that I used in my research to investigate the underlying political and economic factors that influence the phenomenon of school turnaround.


Research reflexivity; critical realist research; neoliberalism

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DOI: 10.15663/wje.v22i2.564


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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015