Moving Beyond Everyday Life in Institutional Ethnographies: Methodological Challenges and Ethical Dilemmas

Maria Norstedt, Janne Paulsen Breimo


Institutional ethnography (IE) is a method of social inquiry that sets out to explore and analyze how people's daily activities are "hooked up" into institutional arrangements and ruling relations. Using the everyday life of people and their experiences as points of departure, the overall goal is to trace how these experiences are linked to translocal processes. When engaged in empirical inquiries, most IE researchers achieve this goal by moving beyond everyday "levels" of experience into various institutional settings. This article illuminates and critically analyzes the possible pitfalls of moving between various sites of empirical investigation. The article uses comparisons of two studies conducted in similar research settings and both concerning rehabilitation processes to describe two possible ways of conducting this kind of research. The aim is to contribute to a discussion of methodological and ethical challenges in institutional ethnographies in order to enrich it as a method of inquiry.



institutional ethnography; mapping; ethical challenges; levels; rehabilitation

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Copyright (c) 2016 Janne Paulsen Breimo, Maria Norstedt

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