PurposeDrawing on part of a French doctorate research journey, the purpose of this paper is to illustrate how an initial research design gets to be questioned and deconstructed when confronted to fieldwork.Design/methodology/approachThe paper reflects on the second year of the doctoral project when the theoretical research object that had been built during the first year was confronted to fieldwork, driving the author to reshape the initial research question.FindingsThe paper explains how doing ethnographic work helped the author to deconstruct the author’s own theoretical and epistemological assumptions. The author started to investigate on the uses of pupils’ “mental suffering” in French upper secondary schools and administration in order to understand the labelling process. The author explains how fieldwork, writing and peer-reviewing made the author realise that the author was not focussing on the appropriate categories. Throughout the reflection, the paper highlights the epistemological shift that this journey reveals.Originality/valueThis paper aims to contribute to methodological debates scrutinising the black box of the research process. It aims to be helpful to those experiencing for the first time the chaos of reformulating the research object.
Journal of Organizational Ethnography – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 10, 2017
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