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The perfect fit? Being both volunteer and ethnographer in a UK foodbank

The perfect fit? Being both volunteer and ethnographer in a UK foodbank Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore both volunteer and ethnographer in a Trussell Trust foodbank in Stockton-on-Tees, North East England during a period of welfare reform and austerity. It shows how ethnographic researchers can develop a more effective qualitative understanding of foodbank use through volunteering. Design/methodology/approach – The methodological design was ethnographic both in terms of data collection and analysis. Volunteering and participant observation began in November 2013 and is ongoing. The data presented are derived from field notes of participant observations. Findings – Tensions are present when considering how best to write up ethnographic research when the researcher adopts a “volunteer ethnographer” role. The negotiation of relationships, practices, and emotions requires the researcher to appreciate the complex and “politicized” discourse surrounding foodbank use in order to report how the foodbank operates in an objective yet truly reflective way. Originality/value – There is an expanding research interest in the growth of foodbanks. This paper offers unique insights into the value and tensions of adopting the dual role of “volunteer ethnographer” when researching foodbank use in the UK. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Organizational Ethnography Emerald Publishing

The perfect fit? Being both volunteer and ethnographer in a UK foodbank

Journal of Organizational Ethnography , Volume 5 (1): 12 – Mar 14, 2016

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
2046-6749
DOI
10.1108/JOE-01-2015-0009
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore both volunteer and ethnographer in a Trussell Trust foodbank in Stockton-on-Tees, North East England during a period of welfare reform and austerity. It shows how ethnographic researchers can develop a more effective qualitative understanding of foodbank use through volunteering. Design/methodology/approach – The methodological design was ethnographic both in terms of data collection and analysis. Volunteering and participant observation began in November 2013 and is ongoing. The data presented are derived from field notes of participant observations. Findings – Tensions are present when considering how best to write up ethnographic research when the researcher adopts a “volunteer ethnographer” role. The negotiation of relationships, practices, and emotions requires the researcher to appreciate the complex and “politicized” discourse surrounding foodbank use in order to report how the foodbank operates in an objective yet truly reflective way. Originality/value – There is an expanding research interest in the growth of foodbanks. This paper offers unique insights into the value and tensions of adopting the dual role of “volunteer ethnographer” when researching foodbank use in the UK.

Journal

Journal of Organizational EthnographyEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 14, 2016

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