Me, My*self and I: Personal and Professional Re-Constructions in Ethnographic Research

Eileen Day

Abstract


Negotiating the tension of the various positions available for oneself in ethnographic research is the central issue of this paper. Constructing and re-constructing the very availability of different positions is a necessary element in this process and extends through all aspects of ethnography. However, this paper focuses on the construction of the narrative, as experienced in the actual doing of an ethnographic research project and the construction of my narratory self. At the heart of one of the many challenges I faced was my desire to move beyond a single authorial writing style in my thesis. How could I interweave multiple voices and realities into the telling of the story? How could I construct a place or places for my*self within it? How could I add the story of my own growth and development as a social researcher? I experimented with a number of representational strategies in my quest to make explicit my subjectivity and my*self-reflexive practices. One method involved constructing an additional self by including several brief reflexive extracts from my own personal journal into the narrative of my thesis. They reflected my learning, my thoughts and feelings as I experienced them throughout the life of the research project. Another approach was to incorporate non-traditional forms of both textual and non-textual material, for instance, a poem (crafted by my sister, a poet) and a painting (courtesy of my mother, an artist) introduced the narrative. They created their own construction of my emergence as a social researcher and their art then becomes an innovative form of disclosure about my*self and a subsequent element in my construction of my*self as both an author and a narrator. A later addition was the article reviewer's voice, which has also been interwoven into the telling of my stories. While such experimental writing can be seen as violating social research conventions, it can also be seen as an attempt to construct an organic whole similar to "Weber's idea of 'the webs of significance' we spin ourselves" (BOCHNER & ELLIS 1996, p.16). In spinning the story of this article, I have merged additional layers and created extra textual spaces as part of the knowledge construction process.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0203117

Keywords


reflexive ethnography; reconstructions of self; narrative styles; thesis writing; multiple audiences; subjectivity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-3.3.824

Copyright (c) 2002 Eileen Day

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