Autoethnography

Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand the cultural experience. Ethnography gathers empirical data which is checked and verified through observation with our senses and the evidence evolves from forms of field journalism.

Autoethnography will be a difficult process for me over the next few weeks. Typically, when given assessments or tasks to do the idea of including yourself and reflecting on your personal experiences is something that you don’t think to do (because you were told not to do it at school), so you don’t.

For example, I took a class a few years back at uni that looked at researching a topic that we found interesting or something that sparked our curiosity. Over the weeks we were mostly asked to remove ourselves from the study especially in regards to showing/writing up all the results. Bias is something that was very detrimental to research, it can really obscure the results and affect the way that people viewed the data collected. During this time the act of removing yourself from the results was quite comfortable and came naturally to me due to the fact that we would have to do this at school when writing essays or reports.

However, Autoethnography challenges the way that research and representing others is done. The practice in itself acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotions and the researchers influence in the research, rather than hiding it or assuming it doesn’t exist

Autoethnography is a process that is quite new and interesting to me and somewhat challenging. Personal narrative ethnography, especially community ethnography is quite interesting as it enables the ethnographer to provide personal experiences and narrative to make sense of an experience.

This was something that I experimented with the first weeks of class when writing about the film Godzilla. When comparing the autoethnography to general research there is an obvious difference between them. I have concerns over the basic ideas of bias and creditability of autoethnography, especially when ethics are evolved or interpersonal relationships are kept throughout the process which could skew the results or harm the participant.

Ellias it all explains that “when terms such as reliability, validity and generalizability are applied to autoethnography the context, meaning and utility of these terms are altered” So with this in mind I guess the other areas like ethics, bias are altered.

I think the process of autoethnography is quite interesting as it embraces the views and opinions of the researcher which is something that isn’t common.

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2 comments

  1. Hello,
    You gave a very clear understanding of autoethnography and what it is. I liked that you mentioned that you are contributing to autoethnography and how you will be engaging in this over the subject and how you compared this to a subject where you had to give a more objective view. It is challenging as you have to put meaning to your feelings but there are the issues of validity, reliability and generalizability. I found a journal article discussing the validity of autoethnography which discusses personal expirences, showing how the methodology is in fact valid http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0123-46412013000200010

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! Yours is (I think) the first post I’ve read that talks about removing yourself from research feeling more natural, and autoethnography potentially being a bit of a challenge. This is also how I feel. It’s been almost hard-wired into us to remove ourselves from research for fear of creating bias, but autoethnography takes that bias and instead investigates it, which can be a little hard to get your head around. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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