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Original Research

. 2013; 69(1): 10-34


Managing the In-Between: Dialectical Tensions of Researching an Intercultural Congregation

J. Jacob Jenkins.

Abstract
The traditional academic researcher is often viewed as an objective, outside observer. The concept of reflexivity, however, challenges this assumption by expanding upon the conventional role(s) of participant-observer. In this study I reflect-in-action upon two dialectical tensions that emerged during my 48-month study of an intercultural congregation. I begin this process by reviewing the concepts of reflexivity and dialectical theory. Building upon four years of ethnographic fieldwork, I then outline the study’s context and methodology. Next, I discuss two dialectical tensions that emerged during my research, as well as the way I attempted to manage each: (a) majority-minority and (b) faith-academe. Drawing from a variety of theoretical perspectives, I conclude with three implications for future research and practice: (a) the necessity of positionality, (b) the value of authenticity, and (c) the benefit of tensions.

Key words: reflexivity, dialectical theory, researcher roles, positionality, social penetration theory, self-disclosure, culture-centered approach



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