Examining my position


My first assignment asks me to explain how my positionality as a researcher might influence my selection of topic, aims,research question, methodology and methods.

I felt a strong need to examine the word positionality, what is my position and where has this come from?1

The University of Strathclyde uses this definition

“positionality which refers, more narrowly, to the social and political landscape inhabited by a researcher (e.g. gender, nationality, race, religion, sexuality, (dis)abilities, social class and social status).”


The definition seems quite straightforward but then I started to dig into what contributes to my ‘position’ as a researcher , what has and what will influence this and this uncovers a huge range of questions

What has influenced me and given shape to my ideas, views and opinions?
How far into my past am I going to delve? Does my ancestry influence the me I am today? This feels very much like a chicken and egg question.
Chicken and egg
My family and upbringing are a major factor but not necessarily directly, one major influence was probably a need to rebel against a Methodist upbringing.
How much influence on my position do I have? For instance my position is inevitably as a woman but is it influenced by the history I have lived through.
How far has my education influenced my perspective? My reading has been determined not only by the subjects I have studied but also the preferences of my teachers and the syllabus I have encountered.
How will my new role as a researcher influence my future position?  My role as teacher bring the issue of power relationships into focus, if I am to use my students as the subjects of my research I will need to recognize that my relationship with them will be in sharp focus and that I will need to be very clear about this in the planning of my study.
Examining positionality is going to involve a great deal of self examination and personal honesty, It’s going to be an interesting ride!

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