chapter  9
Fieldwork and NRM studies
ByW. Michael Ashcraft
Pages 24

This chapter opens by defining key terms like fieldwork, participant observation, and insider/outsider. How do researchers relate to those whom they study? Four different explanations of that relationship are suggested. The one that has become commonplace is reflexivity, the inclusion of both scholars’ and subjects’ views and placement in the field in drawing conclusions from ethnography. In NRM studies, most fieldwork done before the 1980s and 1990s took reductionistic or phenomenological stances. But researchers were struggling with questions about the relationship between them and their subjects and were moving toward reflexivity just as was happening in anthropology and sociology. The issue of reflexivity in NRM studies is best seen in the case of Paganism, where many researchers are themselves Pagan. Here the distinction between outsider and insider breaks down, especially when women scholars studied Wicca, a female-dominated area in Paganism. Resemblances to the feminist scholars in the previous chapter are drawn. Rather than persisting in binary attitudes (insider/outsider), it is suggested that scholars make way for a third space that collapses the binary.