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Session Overview
RN20_02a_P: Ethnography I
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Katarina Jacobsson, Lund University
Location: PC.4.22
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 4.

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Autoethnography: Biographical Episodes in Ethnographic Narratives

Dennis Saturno Erasga

De La Salle University, Philippines

Ethnography as a research methodology reads context as a form text. In the postmodern sense, ethnographic reading is a mediated process and what mediates between the researchers and what they read is their biography. By extension, there will always be biographical remnants in all ethnographic enterprises. The challenge therefore for researchers is to be able to discriminate which portions of the ethnographic regimen are vulnerable to biographical bias. Locating these portions would allow researchers to balance the demands of a sound sociological research. The present paper explores the implications of these challenges by imagining fieldwork as encounter with multidimensional yet progressive modalities- from the archival to the scopic culminating in the biographic- autoethnography. It maintains that the biographical echo of ethnographic works reverberates more in the research writing phase than in the actual fieldwork, where the multiple and fragile positions (biographic episode) a researcher invokes and brings into play ultimately displace the authentic context (scopic episode) of the data set initially co-produced and co-interpreted with research participants in the field.

No such thing as a complete picture. Studying meeting control by refining the angle on various types of data

David Wästerfors

Lund University, Sweden

The use of multiple methods and triangulation is often understood as a route towards a more complete picture. To only use ethnographic observations, for instance, may blind the observer to important events that occurred before his or her entry in the setting but to add interviews and documents is presumed to make it easier to achieve a so-called holistic view. In an ongoing sub-study within a Swedish project on meetings and meeting cultures in various organizations, we are in the midst of cultivating a different take on multiple methods. Our purpose is not to uncover completeness. Rather, we aim at analyzing a particular slice of formal meetings across various cases and locations: meeting control and meeting deviance. The moral order of having a meeting and the background expectancies of showing loyalty to a given meeting culture stand at the center, not a whole organization or all its meeting patterns and activities. We collect observational data on meeting-moralizing talk, gestures and mimicry by fieldnotes, we collect accounts and narratives on meeting dodging and drop-outs by interviewing, and we collect irony, sarcasms and complaints about meetings via the Internet. We even make use of participant observations in our own work places when we happen to find ourselves in a meeting (for instance on how to engage in “side involvements” during meetings), since our local office culture at work seems to be fairly shared with cultures in the field. In this presentation, I will explain and exemplify our strategy in terms of (a) our theoretical perspective on meetings (interactionism and ethnomethodology), (b) our phenomenon-driven design of the project, and (b) our interest in situational or Goffmanian ethnography.

Capturing subtle conflicting moral expectations: the case of administrators vs. professors.

Malin Åkerström

Lund University, Sweden

Increases in administrative demands, paperwork and meetings, account for different professionals’ grumblings about lack of time to do their “core tasks”. At the same time managers and administrators have gotten a more central role in many contexts. In the present study the university is selected as a case. The university is a particularly interesting form of organization, as it has presumably changed quite rapidly to a more a business-like organization. One of the social consequences is demands on professors to subordinate themselves to new management requirements, which in turn are claimed to create various tensions between administrators and professors. Such tensions arise, for instance, concerning new forms of meetings such as management committees, and in connection to personnel meetings. How does one empirically capture the various morals—often depicted as an understated struggle – among “administrators” and “professors”? In this study, we use materials of various kinds: Gossip, small-talk, unstructured interviews, and investigations of formulations in surveys on work environment. We pay particular attention to formulations such as “ought to”, “should be”, or “My and their task is to …” ? But what do the various sources depict? Are such divisions uttered with expressive caution, and if so, in what ways? Such inquiries demand a novel sensitivity regarding fieldmembers' remarks en passant and their subtle demarcations.

Using ethnography and autoethnography in research of emotions in educational organization. Methodological difficulties.

Beata Pawlowska

University of Lodz, Poland

The aim of the paper is to discuss the use of ethnography and autoethnography in research on emotions in educational organizations. I will show some methodological problems and difficulties when studying emotions using selected qualitative methods (semi-structured and narrative interviews, observations). I will argue that emotions, commonly recognized as subjective states experienced by an individual, and their meaning for an individual should be reconstructed with reference to actions and social processes in which actor is involved (recognizing wider context – organizational and social).

Doing organizational ethnography requires both openness to new circumstances but also well planned conception immersed in organizational reality that can be pretty easily adjusted to circumstances appearing along the research process. In presentation I will discuss our experiences connected with ethnography and autoethnography in educational institutions (primary and secondary schools).

The focus of the presentation will be on answering questions: What kind of methodological difficulties may emerge during research process in reference to each of above mentioned techniques of research of emotions? How to go beyond declarative layer of data and reach the one which is meaningful but often hidden because of interactional specific of interview situation? I will take up the problem of data reliability, informants verification methods, relation between researcher’s auto presentation and gathered data.

The discussion are based on 8 years of qualitative study in educational institutions (participant observation of school life; 56 semi structured interviews and 25 narrative interviews with school managers, teachers, school workers, parents; documents analyses and visual data analyses).

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