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What a highly controversial ethnography says about tensions, problematizations and inequality in contemporary ethnographic practice and regulation

What a highly controversial ethnography says about tensions, problematizations and inequality in... PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to illuminate how inequality – in the way ethnography as a research tool itself is used – underwrites many of the methodological tensions in the recently published and widely-debated On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman.Design/methodology/approachThe author conducts an in-depth, critical analysis of On the Run as an epistemological case to visualize methodological and moral challenges that burden ethnographic practice at large.FindingsThe author opens dialogue on undercover ethnography, the overreach of institutional review boards, privilege in the use of ethnography as a research tool, “Othering” and the exoticization of the underclass, and the boundary shift from observer to participant roles with deep immersion. The author unpacks these areas of contention toward the construction of a potential alternative combining public sociology with what is called a sociology of compassion.Originality/valueWhile the book provides an intimate, rich account of the experience of law among the underclass, the author demonstrates that it constitutes an epistemological case ideal for examining how the issues of pre-fieldwork preparation, positionality and deep immersion are conceived – and problematized – in mainstream ethnographic practice. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research Journal Emerald Publishing

What a highly controversial ethnography says about tensions, problematizations and inequality in contemporary ethnographic practice and regulation

Qualitative Research Journal , Volume 20 (1): 12 – Dec 17, 2019

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1443-9883
DOI
10.1108/QRJ-07-2019-0056
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to illuminate how inequality – in the way ethnography as a research tool itself is used – underwrites many of the methodological tensions in the recently published and widely-debated On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman.Design/methodology/approachThe author conducts an in-depth, critical analysis of On the Run as an epistemological case to visualize methodological and moral challenges that burden ethnographic practice at large.FindingsThe author opens dialogue on undercover ethnography, the overreach of institutional review boards, privilege in the use of ethnography as a research tool, “Othering” and the exoticization of the underclass, and the boundary shift from observer to participant roles with deep immersion. The author unpacks these areas of contention toward the construction of a potential alternative combining public sociology with what is called a sociology of compassion.Originality/valueWhile the book provides an intimate, rich account of the experience of law among the underclass, the author demonstrates that it constitutes an epistemological case ideal for examining how the issues of pre-fieldwork preparation, positionality and deep immersion are conceived – and problematized – in mainstream ethnographic practice.

Journal

Qualitative Research JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Dec 17, 2019

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