3.4 Access 3.4.3 Insider status In some circumstances, the researcher has an insider status that makes access much easier. As was noted above (Section 126.96.36.199)Holdaway (1983) was a policeman before he started his research on policing,Hobbs (1988) was familiar with the East End of London that he studied and many of the Chicago School sociologists of the 1930s were participant observers in their own ethnic minority communities. Monder Ram had an insider status that made possible his research on ethnic minority small businesses.
Getting into small companies with a view to undertaking qualitative research over a long period of time is extremely difficult. Securing the consent of notoriously hard-pressed employers to enter the workplace and generally observe and participate in day-to-day shop-floor life over an extended period of time is an onerous undertaking…[However] Monder was an insider by virtue of his ethnicity and detailed knowledge of the clothing industry, as well as coming from a respected family in the local Asian community which has been immersed in the clothing sector for many years. In fact company A is Monder’s own family’s business. In this way he almost automatically took on an ‘insider’ field role … Yet, despite these connections, it was always recognized that his purpose in the field was to conduct research, not full-time work, hence even in his own family’s business, Monder [did not become]… so immersed in the field that critical analysis becomes almost impossible. (Ram and Holliday, 1993, pp. 632–33)