Access is not the Same as Access—Processes, Conditions, and Levels of Access to the Field in Ethnographic Research

Peter Rieker, Giovanna Hartmann Schaelli, Silke Jakob


In empirical social research, access to the field is regarded as an important step in the research process and, in ethnographical research, a crucial challenge. Typically, questions and answers about access remain so general that there are few standards in place. In the contribution at hand, questions concerning access to the field are analyzed in a more differentiated manner on the basis of data from an ethnographical study on adolescent peer groups, thereby centering on various characteristics and problems of these groups. In doing so, it can be shown that access to a research field has to be ensured throughout the duration of the study and that its organization reflects the participants and the status of the researcher, e.g. as participating observer or observing participant. In addition, there are different dimensions of access to be differentiated that contribute to generate information.


access to the field; ethnography; observation; research relations; grounded theory methodology


Copyright (c) 2020 Peter Rieker, Giovanna Hartmann Schaelli, Silke Jakob

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