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Using the theory of social representations to explore difference in the research relationship

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This article explores how the question of difference can be addressed within the research relationship. The first part of the article analyses the consequences of difference in one particularly compelling research encounter where accusations of racism damaged the research relationship. The author argues that we need to examine the researcher-researched relationship in detail and investigate the recognition of difference that structures this relationship in order to analyse material drawn from research. The second part of the article shows how this may be done within a particular social psychological perspective - that of the theory of social representations. This enables an exploration into the relationship between what is said, who said it and to whom, or, in other words, an analysis of the relationship between representations emerging and identities being played out in the research context. The value of this approach is illustrated by studying an example from the author's own research. The final part of the article demonstrates that difference in the researcher-researched relationship is not simply a problem of methodology but needs to be analysed as a feature of human relations. The article argues that an understanding of the relationship between social representations and identities illuminates the question of difference in qualitative research and demonstrates the value of difference.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/2436/1/Using_the_theory_%28LSERO%29.pdf

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