Reflexivity and Positionality in Linguistic Ethnography

This event has now passed.

Date: 03 June 2019
Venue: Room 2S704, Frenchay Campus
Venue Location:
Time: 09:00-16:30

Coffey points out that ethnographic fieldwork 'involves the enactment of social roles and relationships, which places the self at the heart of the enterprise' (Coffey, 1999, p. 23). As linguistic ethnographers, we may find ourselves doing research in communities and social spaces where we already have a prior identity and pre-existing sets of relationships (Copland, 2015), or we may need to forge relationships and fashion our own positionality in the research site from scratch. 'Personal, emotional and identity work' (Coffey, 1999, p. 1) is required in every case.

Sociologists have long debated the merits and payoffs of field research conducted by both 'outsiders' and 'insiders' (see Merton, 1972; Baca Zinn, 2001) where insiderness is taken to mean a shared cultural, linguistic, ethnic, national and religious heritage. That said, both Junker (1960) and Spradley (1980) problematize the strict dualism between an 'insider' and an 'outsider', and question this over-simplistic distinction. Can you ever be fully participatory? Or a complete insider? If possible, is this desirable? What part does language play in establishing researcher positionality in the field, and also thereafter during analysis and writing up?

Through this day-long event, we invite participants to reflect on how insider/outsider positioning, and researcher identit(y/ies) manifests in, and affects, their own linguistic ethnographic research projects. Participants will have the opportunity to hear other linguistic ethnographers (both early career and more established) talk about and reflect on their own research experiences, to take part in group-based data sessions exploring how data revealing identity work might be engaged with, and to ask questions and exchange perspectives and experiences through a final panel session.


  • Early Bird rate £40 (£20 for PhD students) ends 23 April 2019.
  • Full Rate £45 (£25 for PhD students) registering on or after 24 April 2019.

Up to 10 LEF Bursaries will be available to cover registration fees for participants without access to institutional funding and are on a first-come-first-served basis (subject to eligibility).

The registration fee includes refreshments and lunch.

Registration for this Reflexivity and Positionality in Linguistic Ethnography event.

Applications for Linguistic Ethnography Forum (LEF) Bursaries

If you wish to be considered for a Linguistic Ethnography Forum Bursary, please email the conference organisers at BEFORE registering to confirm your unfunded status. If you are a doctoral student, please also provide a letter signed by your doctoral supervisor supporting your application for a LEF bursary.

The conference organisers will review applications and will respond to applicants individually to confirm Bursary awards and authorisation to registery as a Bursary participant. There are 10 Bursaries available on a first-come, first-served basis (subject to eligibility).

Contributing data for the data sessions

In addition, if you would be willing to share an excerpt from some empirical data that you have collected as part of your research, to be considered for group analysis in the data sessions, please send a copy of the relevant data excerpt to

The data must in some way relate to the theme of researcher positionality and/or identity work in the research site but the type of data and format is your choice. For example, the data could be a sample drawn from your field notes, a transcription of some interactional audio data, OR an extract from a reflexive research journal.

Please limit this data to one page of A4 or the equivalent and ensure that the data are sent in an anonymised format (except insofar as the data concerns yourself, and you are happy that your identity is disclosed to the group in relation to it). Please be sure that all ethical guidelines have been adhered to and that the data are suitable to be shared with the event organisers and participants.

The deadline for submission of data extracts for consideration is 23 April 2019. The organisers will review the proposals received, and will notify you in writing by 14 May 2019, whether or not your data proposal has been selected for group analysis during the event.

Abstract submission

All registrations to the event must also submit the below information:

  • A 300 word abstract outlining a current or recent research project you are involved in, and how researcher positioning manifests itself within this.
  • A 150 word explanation of:
    • How you think the event may benefit you.
    • Any questions you have which you are hoping the event may help you to answer.

Please submit your abstract submission.

Contact: Charlotte Selleck

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