Estranging Ourselves from Our Fieldnotes—Reconstruction of Styles of Writing as a Methodological Reflection

Rebekka Streck, Ursula Unterkofler, Anja Reinecke-Terner


When writing ethnographic fieldnotes researchers confront specific practical research challenges. They have to continually decide what to describe, in which words, and to what extent. In this article we focus on this selection process, which is inevitable in the course of observation and recording. After presenting and criticizing the methodological discourse, the authors introduce the principles of construction, which they reconstruct by comparing their own fieldnotes written in the context of their dissertation projects. Discussed are the overall form of the fieldnotes, the level of detail in which different elements of situations are described, and how the person of the researcher is represented in the data. With regard to particular principles of construction, the differences between the authors' styles of writing are reflected and legitimated methodologically. The article concludes with proposing a reflexive examination of writing as a constructive performance. Through discussing and comparing different styles of writing, estranging ourselves from our fieldnotes was initiated - a process that allows for reflection and learning. It is during this process when fieldnotes become "strangers."



fieldnotes; ethnographic writing; writing as a constructive performance; reflecting research practice; ethnography


Copyright (c) 2013 Rebekka Streck, Ursula Unterkofler, Anja Reinecke-Terner

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