Reflexive Practice in the Ethnographic Text: Relations and Meanings of the Use of Heroin and Other Drugs in an Urban Community

  • Pilar Albertín Carbó Universidad de Girona
Keywords: reflexive ethnography, participant observation, note-taking, investigator's position, subjectivity, heroin use


In this article I will illustrate the process of engaging in reflexive action research, to question the role of the researcher during data collection, data analysis, and in preparing a research article. I address reflexivity by way of an ethnographic study of drug use that was carried out in Barcelona, Spain, from 1994 to 1996. The socioconstructionist perspective that guides my work departs from two premises: 1) the researcher's approach to and relation with informants, as well as the emergent meanings that arise from this interaction constitute key elements of ethnographic reflexive practice (HAMMERSLEY & ATKINSON, 1995); 2) language is performative, which is to say that it has the capacity to produce action (AUSTIN, 1962) and, therefore, effects the construction of reality. It follows that the author of a text is implicated and takes on a commitment insofar as she or he is an agent situated between informants and readers. The positionality of the author gives rise to the need to experiment with a reflexive practice that can take into account ethical and epistemological criteria that will in turn affect the formation of any corresponding "academic" or "scientific" knowledge. The results of my investigations suggests four basic, interrelated dimensions that obtain with regard to demonstrating reflexive practice and the researcher's action: 1) micro-contextual descriptions, 2) dialogism (BAKHTIN, 1984), 3) the emergence of subjectivities, the researcher's positions, and possibilities for transformation, and 4) the rhetoric of the text. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0902235


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Author Biography

Pilar Albertín Carbó, Universidad de Girona
Pilar ALBERTÍN CARBÓ; mis líneas de investigación se centran en enfoques psicosociales críticos y metodologías cualitativas. He investigado acerca del consumo de drogas y actualmente, sobre violencia de género en el sistema jurídico-penal.
How to Cite
Albertín Carbó, P. (2009). Reflexive Practice in the Ethnographic Text: Relations and Meanings of the Use of Heroin and Other Drugs in an Urban Community. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(2).
Conceptual and Methodological Reflections