Desert Island Data : an experiment in researcher positionality and interpretivism

DEAN, Jonathan (2015). Desert Island Data : an experiment in researcher positionality and interpretivism. In: Societies in transition : progression or regression : conference programme and abstract book. British Sociological Association.

Full text not available from this repository.
Official URL:


This presentation will report on a methodological experiment conducted among six researchers from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, who had different research interests and personal experiences and subjectivities. Taking three interviews from the popular BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs, each with a working-class male comedian, each researcher analysed the audio and transcript data separately. The team then came together to present their findings and research themes, and discuss their response to the interviews, and to reflect on their participation in the task. While some researchers focused on the role of media interview as performance and the celebrity hierarchy that Desert Island Discs may seek to perpetuate, others focused on the role of social class habitus and hysteresis in how interviewees understand the lived experience of their own success. Different methodological and theoretical frameworks were used, and different reactions to the data emerged. This experiment sought to provide evidence of the importance of researcher positionality and the nature of interpretivism within (qualitative) research. Despite awareness in social science research that two researchers may interpret the same data in very different ways, the issue has remained underexplored and relatively untested. This paper will situate the findings of this project in the history of such debates alongside examining the role restudies play in sociological research. It is also posited that such an experiment may form a useful teaching and training tool for social researchers.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Paper presented at the BSA Annual Conference 2015 Glasgow Caledonian University Wednesday 15-Friday 17 April 2015
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sociology, Politics and Policy Research Group
Depositing User: Hilary Ridgway
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2015 08:48
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 09:15

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics