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In the picture or off the wall? Ethical regulation, research habitus, and unpeopled ethnography

Hurdley, Rachel 2010. In the picture or off the wall? Ethical regulation, research habitus, and unpeopled ethnography. Qualitative Inquiry 16 (6) , pp. 517-528. 10.1177/1077800410370676

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Abstract

This article focuses on two unintended consequences of ethical regulation of social enquiry: the exclusion of participants and, subsequently, a transformation of research practice. An ethnography of corridor life in a large university building forms the basis of the discussion. Originally intended as a pilot for a broader study of informal networks of power, the project’s aim seemed unachievable. External ethical bureaucracy engendered an overdeveloped sensitivity to doing wrong, resulting in a bizarre form of reflexivity. The first consequence of ethical constraint is, paradoxically, the exclusion of participants and their worlds, as research projects are ever more tightly framed. However, forced to reflect on her research habitus, the author discovered that a conventional qualitative research focus on participants’ narrative/biographic accounts and face-to-face interaction can be similarly restrictive. In conclusion, the author discusses how practicing an unpeopled ethnography can open up space for democratic, innovative research within the confines of current ethical regulation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Uncontrolled Keywords: ethics; reflexivity; ethnography; multimodality; visual methods; materiality; Goffman; habitus; corridors
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 1077-8004
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:32
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/40531

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