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Dori on Autoethnography

Thursday, May 10th, 2007 @ 1:24 pm
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Posted in  Methodology

 Given that whichever angle or path i follow during the research process, i have personal stories involved that reveal aspects of the inquiry and are ‘data’ themselves, i am looking for readings on autoethnography which comes into the ‘methodology discussion’. W. sent me an extract from D’s thesis that talks about that, i need to look at the references and relate the whole concept and method to my own study

 Extract from Dori’s thesis with her permission:

“According to Carolyn Ellis writing our own stories can be told as a novel where the self as the ethnographer writes an autobiography as an ‘evocative story’ (2004, xix). She points to the ‘eye’ and the ‘I’ of the researcher in ethnography saying, ‘Is the ‘I’ only about the eye of the researcher, the part that not only looks but is looked back at, that not only acts but is acted upon by those in her focus..might the ‘I’ refer to the researcher who looks inward as well as outward?…Auto-ethnography forms feature concrete action, emotion, embodiment, self-consciousness and introspection portrayed in dialogue, scenes, characterization and plot’.(Ellis, 2004, Pg. xix). Ellis (2007) describes auto-ethnography as ‘Still not a mainstream method but out there on the margins.[and it being] less discipline oriented.if you want to work with it, it doesn’t matter where you come from and which discipline.’ In writing about life she says ‘I don’t know where my life stops and my life’s my life’ and that where we locate ourselves will have an influence on where auto-ethnography exists on the art to science continuum. She considers the space in-between them both the ‘auto’ area where we can locate ourselves, using the language of that area that either leans to the arts or the sciences. (Appendix,). Ellis describes ways of showing and representing the data as stories. The use of text can be creative and she references Rambo (1992, 1995, 1996) using (i)’a layered account,’ where the personal narrative is connected to the literature, to statistics, data and each section is connected to the other by an asterix and stands usually as a vignette. This can also apply to presenting two stories at once. The dialogue font size remains the same, as they are equally important. However, my presentation is a cloth woven with different wefts and warps, making a fabric of textures, colours and spaces, each as important as the other. Sometimes the font size and colour changes according to emphasis and the layered effect is more spontaneous than contrived; (ii) a sandwich account that could involve the literature, followed by the story followed by the analysis. Sometimes the stories can be written without references and analysis or the analysis can be written as a dialogue; (iii) an open sandwich where the story begins and the analysis might be at the end, but the writing moves back and forth between them – it is seamless writing of both story and analysis. Ellis says, ‘I want to hold you into the story emotionally and keep you there’ (2007). Creative, emotionally evocative writing can accomplish that intention. What makes this kind of story work is by showing the reader and not telling the reader how to think and experience the moment in life. This captured moment ostensibly could be either an episode or a series of events that explore the life under examination. Showing is about offering a description, a creative work of art, a performance or film that presents the story to the reader or spectator, enabling them to experience the ‘as if’ element of Rogers (1985) or the creative response of artists. Ellis describes ‘showing’ when she says, ‘I invite you into my subjective experience and therefore have an inter-subjective process’ (2007). The act of the portrayal enlivens the story making it real and accessible.”

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