This article provides a unique contribution to the debates about archived qualitative data by drawing on two uses of the same data – British Migrants in Spain: the Extent and Nature of Social Integration, 2003-2005 – by Jones (2009 ) and Oliver and O’Reilly (2010), both of which utilise Bourdieu’s concepts analytically and produce broadly similar findings. We argue that whilst the insights and experiences of those researchers directly involved in data collection are important resources for developing contextual knowledge used in data analysis, other kinds of critical distance can also facilitate credible data use. We therefore challenge the assumption that the idiosyncratic relationship between context, reflexivity and interpretation limits the future use of data. Moreover, regardless of the complex genealogy of the data itself, given the number of contingencies shaping the qualitative research process and thus the potential for partial or inaccurate interpretation, contextual familiarity need not be privileged over other aspects of qualitative praxis such as sustained theoretical insight, sociological imagination and methodological rigour.
- SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship