Autoethnography: An Overview

  • Carolyn Ellis University of South Florida
  • Tony E. Adams Northeastern Illinois University
  • Arthur P. Bochner University of South Florida
Keywords: autoethnography, relational ethics, co-constructed narratives, interactive interviews, narrative, ethnography, personal narrative, narrative ethnographies


Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. This approach challenges canonical ways of doing research and representing others and treats research as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act. A researcher uses tenets of autobiography and ethnography to do and write autoethnography. Thus, as a method, autoethnography is both process and product. URN:


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Author Biographies

Carolyn Ellis, University of South Florida
Carolyn ELLIS has published five books and four edited collections, the most recent of which are The Ethnographic I: A Methodological Novel about Autoethnography; Revision: Autoethnographic Reflections on Life and Work; and Music Autoethnographies: Making Autoethnography Sing/Making Music Personal. She has published numerous articles, chapters, and personal stories situated in interpretive representations of qualitative research, with a focus on grief, loss, and trauma. Her current research focuses on interactive interviews and collaborative witnessing with Holocaust survivors.
Tony E. Adams, Northeastern Illinois University
Tony E. ADAMS (Ph.D., University of South Florida) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre at Northeastern Illinois University. He studies and teaches about interpersonal and family communication, qualitative research, communication theory, and sex, gender, and sexuality. He has published in journals such as Qualitative Inquiry, Soundings, Cultural Studies, Critical Methodologies, Symbolic Interaction, and books such as The Handbook of Critical and Interpretive Methodologies (Sage) and Qualitative Inquiry and Human Rights (Left Coast Press). He is also the author of Narrating the Closet: An Autoethnography of Same-Sex Attraction (Left Coast Press).
Arthur P. Bochner, University of South Florida
Arthur P. BOCHNER is Distinguished University Professor of Communication and Co-Director of the Institute for Interpretive Human Studies at the University of South Florida. He is co-author of Understanding Family Communication (1996), co-editor of Composing Ethnography: Alternative Forms of Ethnographic Writing (1996), Ethnographically Speaking: Autoethnography, Literature, & Aesthetics (2002), and the Left Coast Press book series Writing Lives: Ethnographic Narratives. He has published more than 75 monographs, articles, and book chapters on qualitative research, close relationships, communication theory, and narrative inquiry.
How to Cite
Ellis, C., Adams, T. E., & Bochner, A. P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1).