A Case Study: Exploring the sociology of the food environment at Peartree Academy – Methodological considerations, ‘insider versus outsider’
University of Wolverhampton
This article aims to provide a snapshot of my overall doctoral research study and highlights some of the key methodological concerns raised. The study involved carrying out an ethnographic investigation in to the school meal situation at one particular school, which for reasons of confidentiality was name Peartree Academy. The study involved collecting data through interviews, observations, documentary evidence and field notes. The underlying aim of the study was to re-establish the Sociology of Food (Murcott, 2011) as a research area, with a particular focus on interactions that take place between pupils, parents and staff in the school dining hall at Peartree, which is known as the school ‘restaurant’. It begins with a background into the study with a description of the research design and details some of the key methodological studies used to influence the overall make-up of the methodological stance. This article is made up of the following sections: (1) a methodological view (2) ‘insider’ versus ‘outsider’. Having worked in the teaching profession for a number of years, roles within the school tended to shift from researcher to teacher and teacher to researcher. For this study, a social constructivist theoretical framework was adopted which was influenced by the works of Vygotsky and his study of social situation. Overall it was found that the lines between what constitutes an insider and outsider are very much blurred in the realm of field work.
Keywords: School Meal Situation; Case Study; Ethnography; Methodology, Insider and
Outsider; Interviews; Observations.