A difficult negotiation: Fieldwork relations with gatekeepers

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124 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the challenges the researcher faced when undertaking ethnographic fieldwork within a Probation Approved Premises. How access to research sites is achieved is increasingly being discussed, particularly in ethnographic accounts. These discussions often focus on the practical and ethical challenges of entering fieldwork sites. In contrast, how researchers leave study populations or sites is rarely explored, although perhaps as complex and sensitive to negotiate as access. This article reflects upon the practical, ethical and emotional dilemmas experienced by the author when conducting research with sex offenders and staff in a probation hostel. The focus of the article is on how access was gained and how the site and the people who took part in the research were left at the end of the fieldwork. Key issues include: formal and informal gatekeepers to study sites; participants and forms of data; rapport; attachment to researchers and; deciding when to end fieldwork. Issues of gender are alluded to in this article, but will not be focussed on as they will be dealt with in detail elsewhere. It is concluded that negotiating access is different to gaining entry to a research site, and that these negotiations include considerations of the relationship between the researcher, the research and the researched.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-331
Number of pages17
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010


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