To be honest, I did groan a little at the term ‘autoethnographic research’ as it sounded like a load of academic vomit. However, I must give this term the benefit of the doubt, as four weeks in, referring and thinking in this way has actually been really interesting. For once you get to consider and challenge your own perspective and opinion as an outsider, which is often what you are told to suppress in research. This blog post is me revisiting my autoethnographic account for my first text in the Digital Asia subject.
Two weeks ago our Digital Asia seminar consisted of watching State of Play, a documentary on the eSports competitive gaming scene in South Korea. Watching and recording noticeable factors throughout the documentary was the easy part. When I looked over those notes, it was extremely interesting to see how I referred to such a scene. I used words like ‘they’ and took note of critical differences between South Korean culture and my own. For example, “They give all of the prize money to their Dad’s”, or “They carry around the keyboards with them”, or “In South Korean schools they sing the national anthem of a morning”. I was noticing and recording the key disparities to my own culture as that is what made sense to make note of.
Such “interactions and the conditions that make them meaningful, can be labelled ‘culture’” (Sinclair N, 2015). I was studying a different culture from the context of my culture; An Australian, female, non-gamer, which is first and foremost the major consideration to remember with this research method. Essentially, this form of research is a way to “systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis C. Et al, 2011), which in this case, is eSports in South Korea through my eyes.
In continuation, this research method really allows you to pick up on your cultural biases and stereotypes that are usually what you are required to notice and dismiss in other research methods. That is not to say that ethnographic research doesn’t require objectivity. The research method is academic and requires to uphold academic integrity, however we get to bring to light our own perceptions which is different in the academic sense.
This research method does have limitations and difficulties such as being able to comprehend and analyse why you think the way you do. You also need to consider context and additional influencing factors that may affect your opinion such as racism or gender roles. Many facets come in to play when you are observing a culture different to your own. In revisiting my first recordings of the the documentary, I got to recognise how limited my opinion is, due to the lack of knowledge on South Korean culture.
Overall, autoethnographic research is a bloody long-winded word, however moving on from that fact, I do think it is a very valid way to undertake research, as for the most part it encourages you to be natural and record your truth. You then get to discuss why you took note of the points you did and how this is as a result of culture. I’m looking forward to choosing my own text and using the autoethnographic research method in my next blog.
By Abbey Cubit
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1.
Nicholas, S 2015, ‘Ethnography’, Research Starters: Education (Online Edition), Research Starters, EBSCOhost, viewed 21 August 2016.