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Psychosocial Studies: Reading Group: Navigating sameness and difference in research

28th October 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Association for Psychosocial Studies Online Reading Group

Navigating sameness and difference in research; a critical discussion on reflexivity

Michelle Elliot and Lindsey Nicholls

Friday 28 October 2022, 4 – 6pm

We are incredibly happy to invite you to join us for the first APS online reading group of the year! We are starting this academic year with Lindsey Nicholls and Michelle Elliot’s incredibly important work on reflexivity when researching sensitive topics and/or marginalised communities.

The articles are available to download for free here and here


In researching sensitive topics and marginalised communities there has been an increasing pressure for researchers to be the ‘same as’ the participants. This may protect vulnerable communities from objectification and external scrutiny encoded in ‘normative’ views of a society. A researcher who is the ‘same as’ the researched community is considered to have sufficient authenticity and legitimacy to do the research.

Critical, feminist and reflexive approaches to social science research demand consideration of research objectives, intentions and implications. The tension between advancing understanding of diverse communities and the interpersonal and intrapersonal transitions and the dynamics of the researcher – participant relationship requires an exploration of similarity and difference to ensure an ethically sound research approach.

The presenters will invite discussions on the complexity of establishing authentic and reflexive relationships with the participant communities. The challenges may include exploring/acknowledging unconscious bias and being aware of interpersonal insights and errors that occur in the development, implementation and learning from the research.

The presenters consider if a critical reflexive inquiry can promote a real and reciprocal exchange between researcher and participants. The presenters suggest that overly simplistic ‘identification with’ participants can avoid the painful realities of difference that are important to explore and understand. The intersubjective space can be explored through acknowledgement of sameness and difference, in privilege, power and/or the sense of subjugation.

  1. How can researchers critically reflect on their intentions (conscious and unconscious) for doing the research?
  2. How does intersubjectivity lend itself to understanding research into the human condition?

All registered attendees should automatically be sent a Zoom link. The link will be re-sent the day of the event.

Author biographies:

Dr Michelle Elliot (she/her) is a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Occupational Therapy and Arts Therapies at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. Themes of criticality, reflexivity and narrative are explored across her teaching and scholarship.

Dr Lindsey Nicholls has a senior academic post at University of Essex. Her doctoral work explored a psychoanalytic understanding of care through the lived experiences of therapists and their clients. She has published work on the use of psychoanalytic theory in research methods (reflexivity) and co-authored a book on psychoanalytic thinking in occupational therapy.


28th October 2022
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category: