Play with methods: Potentials of combining the narrative auto/biography with 'Garfinkel's ethnomethodological experiments'


ŽÁKOVÁ Michaela

Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Following the conviction of Stöckelová and Abu Ghosh (2013), I see ethnography as a “creative process” rather than a method. This process includes the forms of theorizing, experimenting, data creating, but also includes the ability of reflexivity that shaped our modern society and qualitative research as well. Additionally, when we mention reflexivity in the research field, many studies about ethical dimensions and power relations were written. Aspects of the creative process prevent the idea of possibilities of keeping scheduled methodological research scenarios. When we enter the field, we are confronted with many new situations, limits, and when relevant, are forced to adapt our own approach depending on the concrete field circumstances. Those new needs, I would like to portray on my reflective story about conducted research on forming alternative women's identities in the contemporary Czech society. When I started my fieldwork, I wanted to use the methodological approach of the auto/biography and let participants tell their life stories in connection with the idea of non-interference in the flow of narration. During the research, I surprisingly found that I unconsciously used the words that my participants object to. This led me to the idea of using these problematic words or sentences during the other interviews for clarifying the emic conceptualisations and meanings of the interviewees, in order to preserve their right to object. Therefore, I began to use another methodological approach inspired more by 'Garfinkel’s ethnomethodological experiments'. In the conference paper, I would like to discuss the potentials of combining these two contrasting methodological approaches, narrative auto/biography and ethnomethodological experiments, in relation to ethic dimensions and power relations in the research field. The first of them is based on (power) non-disruption of the interviews, second on the intentional interference. Is it possible to combine these two different approaches? How can we work effectively with them? What consequences does it bring, what implications does it have for our data analysis and field research as such? Additionally, this conference paper relates these questions to the issue of contemporary “methodological fetishism”, and researchers’ unwillingness to combine different approaches. Reed and Alexander (2009) claim, rather than create new theories and contribute to them; researchers emphasize variables’ control and validation of methods. This issue, I would like to discuss. I was confronted with these researchers’ approaches too, especially with negative reactions on my combining of two different approaches (presented above) in my study. Inspired by useful comments of the critics, I would like to discuss the potentials and limits of combining different methods, as well as discuss the role of methods in contemporary ethnographic research as such. In my opinion, the “methodological fetishism” of researchers could lead not only to the broader unwillingness to combine different methodological approaches but also to 'stiffness of research'. However, in the ethnography fields researchers are forced to experiment with methods and react to the new challenges. So, under what rules is it possible to combine different methodological approaches?
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