The Spirit of Fieldwork? Navigating Alcohol Consumption, Abstinence and Religious Positionalities in Social Sciences Research


  • Jennifer Philippa Eggert Independent researcher
  • Seb Rumsby University of Birmingham



alcohol, fieldwork, Lebanon, religion, religious positionality, researcher positionality, UK, Vietnam, autoethnography


In recent years, debates on researcher positionality have increasingly gained traction in academic circles. However, despite this increased focus on questions evolving around the impact of the researcher's presence on the research process and outcome, there are still issues that scholars have tended to avoid, such as the effect of alcohol on the research process. While existing publications contain some discussion of various aspects related to researchers navigating alcohol consumption during fieldwork, they do not touch on the role of religion—a striking absence considering the prevalence of religious reasons for abstinence. In this article, we therefore build on existing literature by discussing two case studies focused on the experiences of religious researchers with alcohol that help complicate our understanding of the role of alcohol consumption and abstinence during fieldwork. Using a collaborative autoethnographic approach and drawing on our fieldwork experiences as a Muslim woman in Lebanon and a Christian man in Vietnam, we discuss how religion affects rapport and insider/outsider dynamics during fieldwork. We conclude with recommendations on how academic institutions can better support students and staff members (regardless of religious identity or lack thereof) when it comes to navigating alcohol consumption during fieldwork and beyond.


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Author Biographies

Jennifer Philippa Eggert, Independent researcher

Dr Jennifer Philippa EGGERT is a researcher and practitioner specializing in violent conflict, global development and humanitarian action, with a focus on gender, faith and local approaches. She has worked for universities, NGOs and international organisations in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Seb Rumsby, University of Birmingham

Dr Seb RUMSBY is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham. His research interests include everyday political economy, labour exploitation, undocumented migration, ethno-religious politics and grassroots development.


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How to Cite

Eggert, J. P., & Rumsby, S. (2024). The Spirit of Fieldwork? Navigating Alcohol Consumption, Abstinence and Religious Positionalities in Social Sciences Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 25(1).



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