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Researching Shyness: A Contradiction in Terms?
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 19:06 authored by Susie ScottSusie Scott
The image of the `ideal research participant as reflexive and articulate is typically associated with loquacious vocality. By contrast, the shy person is apparently quiet and reticent, representing the complete anathema of this ideal. Nevertheless, it is possible to conduct qualitative research with self-defined shy people if we treat shyness as an emergent property of interaction rather than a fixed personality trait. Methodological innovation can help us to avoid evoking shyness in the research encounter itself, as we see from a study in which in-depth interviews and an email-based discussion group allowed participants to step out of the shy role. Drawing on their experiences of observing social life from the margins, these actors provided detailed, reflexive narratives about the social context in which shyness is defined and managed. Paradoxically, therefore, the shy display a unique form of vocality and prove themselves to be remarkably similar to the `ideal research participant.
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- Sociology and Criminology Publications
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