Bucerius, in a 2013 article entitled “Becoming a trusted outsider: Gender, ethnicity, and inequality in ethnographic research” described the research problem as the difficulty in gaining trust while conducting ethnographic research, particularly when the researcher differs from the population of interest in ethnicity, gender and background. This is based on the previous research that has been done on this topic which has found the sameness between ethnographic researchers and their target population provides advantages to the trust and openness required in order to gain insight. The research question is whether such differences between ethnographic researchers and their target populations can be overcome by gaining “trusted insider” status by providing or having “inside knowledge”. The hypothesis for this study was that it was possible to gain trusted insider status despite considerable differences, and this was testing in the setting of new male immigrants involved in crime in Frankfurt, with a female ethnographic researcher of a different socioeconomic and ethnic background.
There were fifty five (55) participants in the study, all chosen because they were male second-generation Muslim immigrants who were participating in the informal economy in Frankfurt, Germany. The participants were not separated into groups, and the researcher collected data through informal interviews and discussions, as a group and one on one with the participants. The data was prepared and analyzed through the taking of notes, writing a narrative analysis and determining whether the experience represented “trusted insider status”. The results of the study were positive, with the researcher able to show that she was able to gain the trust of the population as well as necessary information, but also that due to her outsider status; she was able to gain access with information that would not usually be shared with insiders for reasons of cultural values. The implications of this research are that ethnographic research does not depend on pairing similar researchers to target populations. Future research should continue to explore approaches to gain trust as an outsider in ethnographic research studies.

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  • Bucerius, S. M. (2013). Becoming a” trusted outsider”: Gender, ethnicity, and inequality in ethnographic research. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Retrieved from: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sandra_Bucerius/publication/259755434_Becoming_a_”Trusted_Outsider”_Gender_Ethnicity_and_Inequality_in_Ethnographic_Research/links/02e7e52fe811988c75000000.pdf