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Doing ethnography or applying a qualitative technique? Reflections from the 'waiting field'

Mannay, Dawn and Morgan, Melanie 2015. Doing ethnography or applying a qualitative technique? Reflections from the 'waiting field'. Qualitative Research 15 (2) , pp. 166-182. 10.1177/1468794113517391

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Abstract

Contemporary social science research is often concerned to engage with and promote particular forms of postmodern and innovative data production, such as photo-elicitation, autoethnography or free association interviews. This fascination with the latest and greatest techniques has been accompanied by an ever more fragmented range of research methods training for students where the week-by-week shift between approaches engenders a disjointed view of becoming the researcher. This individualisation of techniques has set up rival camps and critiques where the common ground of being embedded in traditional ethnography is often forgotten. For researchers, who began their academic careers in the ethnographic tradition, there is an appreciation of the holistic base of enquiry from which a family of methods can be effectively employed. However, more recently qualitative researchers have been distracted by ‘the technique’; a distraction that can blind them to the occupation of ethnography. Concurrently, there have been shifts in the social and economic expectations placed on qualitative inquiry that have acted to close down spaces of ethnographic teaching and practice. In response, this article focuses on the importance of the ‘waiting field’; an opportunity to explore the times where real lives carry on before they make room for the intrusion of the data production of ‘the technique’ and remind us that much qualitative research is, in fact, an ethnographic undertaking: one that encompasses the researcher within and beyond the field.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
L Education > L Education (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: data production, ethnography, fieldwork, mothers, participatory methods, psychosocial, reflexivity, visual methods
Additional Information: Online publication date: 27 January 2014.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1468-7941
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 08 May 2019 02:48
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/61946

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