You are looking at 11 - 20 of 2,448 items for :

  • Refine by access: All content x
Clear All
Abstract only
Methodological insights from ethnographic exits

This book is concerned with a central, yet overlooked, aspect of ethnographic fieldwork: leaving the field. Despite some useful treatments being available, this collection provides a current and critical sustained engagement with the practices, problems and possibilities of leaving the field. The collection generates methodological insights through the examination of a range of exits from a variety of contexts. The tales from leaving the field cover planned ‘good’ exits; abrupt and unwelcome exits where the researcher is forced to leave the field or, indeed, the field leaves them; ‘bad’ exits with a lingering legacy; partial exits and returns; and cases where the research, the researcher and the field are entangled to the extent where leaving becomes impossible. The chapters – written by an international and interdisciplinary group of fieldworkers, at different stages of their careers – are not intended to reduce leaving the field to a series of recommendations or programmatic steps but, instead, report from ethnographic exits in order to critically investigate, trouble and even subvert established notions of field relations, exit strategies and even ‘the field’ itself.

Abstract only
Making-love among glassblowers
Erin O’Connor

In the early 2000s, the author conducted four years of fieldwork – an ‘apprentice ethnography’ – at New York Glass, a glassblowing studio in New York City, where she became a glassblower, albeit a modest one. ‘Caught up’ in fieldwork, her writing addressed ‘where the action is,’ namely the actual, embodied practice of glassblowing, including becoming both a glassblower and part of the glassblowing social world. Extrapolating upon a facet of that experience – falling in love with Sarkis, a glassblower – the author investigates shifting meanings of love in the field. Drawing from writers including June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Luce Irigaray, and Sara Ahmed, she moves from an a heteronormative ‘erotics of recognition’ to a queerer erotics of material promiscuity. The author shows how craft production in the glassblowing studio mirrors heteronormative love when proceeding from ‘lack’ – a Platonic heritage that commences from a clearing, a ‘field’. Only by embracing the material multiplicities of, by and with which we are always becoming – by saying ‘no’ to the clearing from which one produces – the author argues, can we begin to understand these queerer loves and, as a glassblower, make as non-production. This requires ‘exiting’ the field altogether with the onto-epistemological break of material becomings. Love, shorn of its heteronormative trajectory, shows the way.

in Leaving the field
Lessons from leaving New York
Joe Williams

This chapter discusses different modes of reflexivity accompanying (re)entering and (re)leaving the field. The focus is a specific ‘intermission’ in fieldwork; how it shapes the field and becomes a moment of transition in reflexive thinking. The details are from an ethnographic study of homeless outreach workers in Manhattan. The discussion is of realising the potentialities of the boundaries of this fieldsite – which are anthropologically clear (geographically and temporally) but sociologically blurry (exploring ‘homelessness’ as a subject) – and are affected by different modes of reflexivity. This emphasises the significance of an ‘intermission’ as a time to develop sociological reasoning and review how ‘the field’ might be getting done. The chapter discusses how ‘intermissions’ provide the opportunity to engage in at least three modes of reflexivity: Anthropological/Ethnographic, Philosophical and Ethnomethodological. This addresses how leaving the field – geographically, temporarily and permanently, and reflexively – can assist the researcher in seeing the field and the social phenomena. The idea of an ‘intermission’ is not intended as a methodological prescription but as a conceptual tool for thinking reflexively with ‘initial observations’ and, further, as an ongoing process of reflexivity and analysis throughout the research process both in and out of the field. The purpose of this chapter is to explore how leaving the field in combination with such reflexive concepts might enable the researcher to identify social resources and social phenomena, and distinguish this from preconceived notions; making way for a deep engagement with the ethnographic method, the fieldsite and fieldnotes as data.

in Leaving the field
Research fields without exit
Andrew P. Carlin

Selling the magazine The Big Issue, and begging for change, are distinct activities. Nevertheless, in the context of public spaces, both are recognisable as phenomena of visible poverty. Although these are not equivalents, they entail and are characterised by resemblances: beggars and vendors align themselves with pedestrian traffic flows in order to elicit money from, or sell magazines to, passers-by. These alignments are recoverable through detailed observation of the practices they involve, such as orienting to the temporal organisation of specific locations for maximum pedestrian traffic, close attention to and exploitation of the sequential environments that constitute public spaces, positioning within or standing just outside the pedestrian flows, using glance-available categories to increase opportunities for donations or sales. This chapter reports on two fieldwork experiences. One was observational team ethnography. The other involved a fieldworker with a single informant, in interview and tutorial activity. A tutorial, through which a seller of The Big Issue instructed the fieldworker to use pedestrian flows as a resource, is not subject to the reductions of positional reflexivity. Instead, this tutorial illustrates the contingencies of methods, as seen from the vantage point of the seller, with implications for the use of video data. Description and analysis was informed by an agenda-setting study of public spaces as categorial and sequential environments, which had a decisive influence upon subsequent studies of turn-taking systems. Once the self-replication and categorial organisation of pavement cultures are recognised, public spaces become fieldwork settings without exit.

in Leaving the field
Alex McInch
Harry C.R. Bowles

While some ethnographers plan their exit strategies extensively, ‘leaving’ is nuanced by several contextual factors, not least the type of relationships fieldworkers build with their research participants, and the nature of their participatory involvement during fieldwork. To illustrate the situated qualities of ethnographic disengagement, the chapter presents two ‘confessional’ vignettes – one from education, the other from (elite) sport – on how two male researchers managed the process of departing their respective fieldwork sites. The first case study charts Alex’s leaving narrative as a working-class academic researching working class schooling. It discusses how the researcher’s social baggage came to influence the mediation and maintenance of field relations, and how, over time, friendly relations (especially with pupils) were formed and enhanced. The narrative reports that even though the researcher planned to stay in contact with participants post-fieldwork, this did not happen for several practical and methodological reasons. The second case study traces the evolution of Harry’s interpersonal connection with his principal gatekeeper, ‘Coach, and examines how the changing circumstances of their relationship shaped the manner of Harry’s disengagement. More specifically, the narrative explores the exchange of power, vulnerability and responsibility that Harry shared with Coach over time that confirmed Harry’s sense of duty to remain in contact long after the cessation of his fieldwork. Through a comparative analysis of these leaving experiences, the chapter concludes by reflecting on the ethical commitment ethnographers make to involve themselves, long term, in people’s lives, and the ethical judgements that arise therefore from ethnographers’ choice of exit strategy.

in Leaving the field
Janean Robinson
Barry Down
, and
John Smyth

While tidying up e-mail archives in 2019, the authors stumbled across correspondence from their research participants that captured their attention. They had interviewed thirty-two high school students as part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) project over a three-year period while these young people were transitioning from school to the world of work. Even though the project had finished in 2013, the authors deliberately maintained contact with them electronically to understand what was happening in their lives. Not all young people responded in 2014; however, the fact that some did was quite remarkable, and their responses unearthed ‘thick descriptions’ and powerful narratives that the authors reflect on throughout the chapter. Participants’ stories advance theoretical and methodological insights capable of informing social action, bringing to the fore ‘modalities of time and space’ as they continue to ‘echo’; demanding our reflexive attention as we enter the ‘field’ once again to engage, connect and listen to their narratives; ‘with them’. Weaving together student narratives, researcher fieldnotes and supporting theoretical frameworks, this chapter culminates in sharing experiences and memories that ‘haunt’ even when consciously attempting to ‘let participants go’ (from a field of choice). We learn from and acknowledge the haunting echoes of our participants because they never really ‘exit’ but ‘tag along’ as we continue to create democratic spaces, places and directions in future educational research.

in Leaving the field
Embodying the field of the Kung Fu family
George Jennings

The Southern Chinese martial arts are typically organised into lineages and ‘families’ through which very specific techniques of the body and practices are transmitted over subsequent generations and between far-flung places, thereby developing specific sense of belonging. Wing Chun Kung Fu is a popular system that has been subject to disparate social scientific studies pertaining to identity, embodiment and pedagogy. This confessional tale considers Spatz’s work (2015) advocating the exploration of technical knowledge via practice-based research. The chapter challenges the notion of a researcher clearly being able to leave a field (the Kung Fu family) in which they have been totally embedded through their mode of embodiment and ways of moving. The chapter thus outlines the fact that a fieldwork site is part of the constitution of a practitioner-researcher-instructor. Using his own experience as a martial arts ethnographer since 2004, the author charts his research on/through bodily knowledge via his main martial art of Wing Chun that resulted in two follow-up studies. He conducted these studies with increased geographical distance from his own teacher (sifu), seniors (sihing) and school (kwoon) in Britain when he moved to Mexico as an independent researcher. From the lessons gleaned from these two pragmatic research endeavours, alongside subsequent fieldwork in other martial arts contexts, the author argues that ethnographers cannot exit a field if that field is within them. Rather than perceiving this as problematic, he suggests that practitioner-researchers can develop scholarship around the skills and knowledge that they have acquired and are transmitting.

in Leaving the field
Jessica Nina Lester
Allison Daniel Anders

Over a four-year period, we engaged in a community-based post-critical ethnography in Riverhill – a mid-sized city located in southern Appalachia in the United States. Beginning in 2007, a non-profit organization placed Burundians in public housing projects in Riverhill. Through English as a Second Language tutoring and a small interdisciplinary research team, we met with Burundian children and families the next year. Most Burundians came to the United States from refugee camps in Tanzania, Republic of Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This chapter, traces the authors’ layered and multiple exits from living in Riverhill. Specifically, the authors mark exits from some places and people within the community and the exit from an interdisciplinary research team itself, and from thresholds of communication and relationships that became unbearable to maintain. Haunted by what was, and in touch with some of what is through connections with some members of Burundian families through social media, they authors use autoethnographic reflection alongside fieldnotes and e-mail communication, and interactive interviews with each other, to represent the ways of living through and living with entrances and exits. Some of the exits easiest to leave personally were the hardest to give up professionally. Among their exits the authors focus on what shattered all preparation and expectation, their privileges that allowed them to leave Riverhill as a place once lived, and their thoughts of the children, now young adults, who never leave them at all.

in Leaving the field
Abstract only
A reflection on leaving the field
Gareth M. Thomas

While confessional tales are a common feature of the research process, stories of exiting the field remain scarce. This chapter is a reflection on the author’s experiences of leaving a post-industrial town after a long period of study. First, it troubles the popular narrative of ‘leaving’ as a voluntary and deliberate decision. The author’s abrupt departure from the research site prompted questions and anxieties about researcher responsibilities and commitments. Second, it highlights the affective nature of leaving the field and sketches out the interpersonal intensity of the relationship between both the researcher and the participants. Third, it reflects upon the author’s trepidation about writing once he had left the site, both in terms of doing justice to participants’ lives and not further stigmatising a maligned community. By sketching out not the reasons for leaving the field, but what concerns emerged because of his departure, the author argues that researchers must treat disengagement as a serious matter – pragmatically and analytically – which rarely leaves them unaffected.

in Leaving the field
Abstract only
Inclusion through a neoliberal, postracial lens
Cathy-Mae Karelse

Opening with Toni Morrison’s explanation of how racialised systems and institutions recycle themselves, this chapter discloses the underbelly of White Mindfulness. It expands on the social forces that shape the Mindfulness Industry and explains how, given its disengagement with these deep societal dynamics, it comes to slot seamlessly into the US and UK. An insistence that all practitioners share a common humanity disguises an infusion in postracialism, neoliberalism, and whiteness that keep People of the Global Majority socio-politically and economically marginalised. This unquestioning of dominant narratives and norms partly explains White Mindfulness’ success and may account for an intransigence around change. Discussion of attempts at diversity and inclusion reveal tactics like spiritual bypassing that entirely evade transformation and reinforce the status quo. More importantly, social normativity exposes the invisibilisation of whiteness and postracial neoliberalism to those captaining the White Mindfulness ship. Drawing on Sara Ahmed’s On Being Included, diversity is addressed from all angles, most especially its co-option in making institutions believe they are allies of anti-discrimination. Ahmed’s work helps address the question ‘inclusion into what?’ by showing how easily diversity work becomes non-performative. Still, entering White Mindfulness spaces, while remaining tethered to the margins, presents prospects for subversion. In this context, Lorde’s master’s tools point to the requirements for real transformation and question whether diversity is a soft option compared to decolonisation.

in Disrupting White Mindfulness