Conducting research with young Chinese-Australian students in health and physical education and physical activity: epistemology, positionality and methodologies

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Research that delves into the sociocultural perspectives of health and physical education and physical activity (HPEPA) in the lives of ethnic minority students in Westernised countries is often conducted by investigators who are Westerners, native English speakers and racially different from the study participants. Limited research is conducted by researchers who have racial and/or linguistic identities similar to those of study participants, and even fewer reports include the reflexivity data of the research process. This paper draws upon my own experience, as a young Hong Kong-Chinese female Australian, of conducting research with Chinese students and their White HPE teachers in Australia. I discuss a number of aspects of the epistemological dilemmas of being an insider and outsider as a researcher, and the practical and methodological issues in recruiting participants and conducting research with them. In addition, reversing the ethnic gaze by focusing on the teachers (i.e. a young Chinese female conducting research with White teachers) can help to illuminate new perspectives on the construction of otherness and positionalities within research. The reflections add to current discourse on problematising HPEPA research in general, particularly when researching the Other. This paper concludes that an intersection of racial, ethnic, class, gender and age identity can and does have some effect on the research process, as the Chinese students raised particular questions to a young, female Chinese researcher, and they were more willing to talk about racial and cultural issues they felt I could relate to.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-618
Number of pages12
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number6
Early online date7 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2018


  • Chinese students
  • Health and physical education
  • Positionalities
  • Reflexivity
  • Whiteness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Education

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