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Affective ethnography: reflections on the application of “useful” research on workplace diversity

Affective ethnography: reflections on the application of “useful” research on workplace diversity The purpose of this paper is to critically reflect on the affective entanglement of both researcher and practitioners in a study of workplace diversity with a transformative agenda.Design/methodology/approachEvents and experiences related to interventions in a municipal center are presented. The study is embedded in critical diversity research and applies engaged ethnographic methods.FindingsThe researcher reflects on how interventions designed to challenge the status quo faced difficulties while considering the impact of the research entry point, efforts to mobilize organizational members in favor of a diversity agenda and the micro-politics of doing intervention-based research.Practical implicationsThe study reflects on how “useful” research with an allegedly emancipatory agenda might not be considered favorable to neither majority nor minority employees. The notion of affectivity is applied to deal with the organizational members’ multi-voiced response to the change efforts, as well as how the researcher’s position as researcher-change agent critically shaped the fieldwork experiences and their interpretation.Originality/valueFew critical diversity scholars engage with practitioners to produce “useful” research with practical implications. In doing so, this paper contributes to critical diversity methods by exploring why presumably emancipatory initiatives apparently did not succeed, despite organizational goodwill. This involves questioning the implied assumption of the inherent “good” of emancipation, as well as notions of “useful research.” http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal Emerald Publishing

Affective ethnography: reflections on the application of “useful” research on workplace diversity

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1746-5648
DOI
10.1108/qrom-11-2016-1456
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to critically reflect on the affective entanglement of both researcher and practitioners in a study of workplace diversity with a transformative agenda.Design/methodology/approachEvents and experiences related to interventions in a municipal center are presented. The study is embedded in critical diversity research and applies engaged ethnographic methods.FindingsThe researcher reflects on how interventions designed to challenge the status quo faced difficulties while considering the impact of the research entry point, efforts to mobilize organizational members in favor of a diversity agenda and the micro-politics of doing intervention-based research.Practical implicationsThe study reflects on how “useful” research with an allegedly emancipatory agenda might not be considered favorable to neither majority nor minority employees. The notion of affectivity is applied to deal with the organizational members’ multi-voiced response to the change efforts, as well as how the researcher’s position as researcher-change agent critically shaped the fieldwork experiences and their interpretation.Originality/valueFew critical diversity scholars engage with practitioners to produce “useful” research with practical implications. In doing so, this paper contributes to critical diversity methods by exploring why presumably emancipatory initiatives apparently did not succeed, despite organizational goodwill. This involves questioning the implied assumption of the inherent “good” of emancipation, as well as notions of “useful research.”

Journal

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 21, 2018

Keywords: Micro-politics; Affect; Critical diversity; Intervention-based ethnography; Researcher and change agent; Useful research

References