Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno) (Ellis, 2004; Holman Jones, 2005). This approach challenges canonical ways of doing research and representing others (Spry, 2001) and treats research as a political, socially-just and socially-con-scious act (Adams & Holman Jones, 2008).
they wanted to concentrate on ways of producing meaningful, accessible, and evocative research grounded in personal experience, research that would sensitize readers to issues of iden-tity politics, to experiences shrouded in silence, and to forms of representation that deepen our capacity to empathize with people who are different from us (Ellis & Bochner, 2000).
Furthermore, scholars began recognizing that different kinds of people pos-sess different assumptions about the world – a multitude of ways of speaking, writing, valuing and believing – and that conventional ways of doing and think-ing about research were narrow, limiting, and parochial.
those who advocate and insist on canonical forms of doing and writ-ing research are advocating a White, masculine, heterosexual, middle/upper-classed, Christian, able-bodied perspective.
As a method, autoethnography combines characteristics of autobiography and ethnography.
autobiographers write about “epiphanies” – remembered mo-ments perceived to have significantly impacted the trajectory of a person’s life (Bochner & Ellis, 1992; Couser, 1997; Denzin, 1989), times of existential crises that forced a person to attend to and analyze lived experience (Zaner, 2004), and events after which life does not seem quite the same.
Hmmm I am doing mine on learning to explore the emerging heurstic of agentive apprenticeship as a definition of learning in networked spaces.
When researchers do ethnography, they study a culture’s relational prac-tices, common values and beliefs, and shared experiences for the purpose of helping insiders (cultural members) and outsiders (cultural strangers) better
When researchers do autoethnography, they retrospectively and selectively write about epiphanies that stem from, or are made possible by, being part of a culture and/or by possessing a particular cultural identity.
An autobiography should be aesthetic and evocative, engage readers, and use conventions of storytelling such as character, scene, and plot development (Ellis & Ellingson, 2000), and/or chronological or fragmented story progression (Didion, 2005; Frank, 1995).
When researchers write ethnographies, they produce a “thick description” of a culture (Geertz, 1973, p. 10; Goodall, 2001).
When researchers write autoethnographies, they seek to produce aesthetic and evocative thick descriptions of personal and interpersonal experience.
Thus, the autoethnographer not only tries to make personal experience meaningful and cultural experience engaging, but also, by producing accessible texts, she or he may be able to reach wider and more diverse mass audiences that traditional research usually disregards
Narrative ethnographies refer to texts presented in the form of stories that incorporate the ethnographer’s experiences into the ethnographic descriptions and analysis of others
Reflexive ethnographies document ways a researcher changes as a result of doing fieldwork. Reflexive/narrative ethnographies exist on a continuum rang-ing from starting research from the ethnographer’s biography, to the ethnogra-pher studying her or his life alongside cultural members’ lives, to ethnographic memoirs
But unlike grounded theory, layered accounts use vignettes, reflexivity, multiple voices, and introspection (Ellis, 1991) to “invoke” readers to enter into the “emergent experience” of doing and writing research (Ronai, 1992, p. 123), conceive of identity as an “emergent process” (Rambo, 2005, p. 583)
Community autoethnographies thus not only facilitate “community-building” research practices but also make opportunities for “cultural and social intervention” possible (p. 59; see Karofff & Schönberger, 2010)
Writing is a way of knowing, a method of inquiry (Richardson, 2000). Conse-quently, writing personal stories can be therapeutic for authors as we write to make sense of ourselves and our experiences (Kiesinger, 2002; Poulos, 2008), purge our burdens (Atkinson, 2007), and question canonical stories – conven-tional, authoritative, and “projective” storylines that “plot” how “ideal social selves” should live (Tololyan, 1987, p. 218; Bochner, 2001, 2002).
These “relational ethics” are heightened for autoethnographers (Ellis, 2007). In using personal experience, autoethnographers not only implicate themselves with their work, but also close, intimate others (Adams, 2006; Etherington, 2007; Trahar, 2009).
Furthermore, autoethnographers often maintain and value interpersonal ties with their participants, thus making relational ethics more complicated. Partici-pants often begin as or become friends through the research process.
For an autoethnographer, questions of reliability refer to the narrator’s credibility. Could the narrator have had the experiences described, given avail-able “factual evidence”?
For autoethnographers, validity means that a work seeks verisimilitude; it evokes in readers a feeling that the experience described is lifelike, believable, and possible, a feeling that what has been represented could be true. The story is coherent. It connects readers to writers and provides continuity in their lives.
In autoethnography, the focus of generalizabil-ity moves from respondents to readers, and is always being tested by readers as they determine if a story speaks to them about their experience or about the lives of others they know;
I can write this down now. It has been swirling around in my head for a month, the readings mixing with my thoughts and reactions, but I did not know just how to put it down on paper. So much of what I want to say about autoethnography is about me, not it.
Okay maybe I am on the write track. I kinda wanna lose the traditional research headings. Gonna keep them for planning so the semantic sturcutre lies beneath and through whatever blanket of truth I weave.
reflexivity and voice, various vague approaches to autobiographical inquiry, validity and acceptability, defences and criticisms, and a wide range of published personal narratives, the typical product of autoethnography.
keeping with the essence of autoethnography, I finally came to the realization that I could share my experience of learning about autoethnography and, in the text, co-mingle me and it.
Think we can skip the whole positvist and post modern debate.
feminist researchers “emphasize the subjective, empathetic, process-oriented, and inclusive sides of social life” (Neuman, 1994, p. 72).
Stivers (1993) has stated that a vision of universal truth is really just a dream of power over others and that liberatory, emancipatory projects are better served by alternative knowledge production process.
Taking the question of voice and representation a step further, we could argue that an individual is best situated to describe his or her own experience more accurately than anyone else
The potential power of autoethnography to address unanswered questions and include the new and unique ideas of the researcher is inspiring to me as one who wishes to find my niche and make my own special contribution.
They noted, however, that the term autoethnography has been in use for more than 20 years (originated by Hayano, 1979) and has become the term of choice in describing studies of a personal nature (Ellis, 2004;Ellis & Bochner, 2000).
The basic design of a heuristic research project involves six steps: initial engagement, immersion, incubation, illumination, explication, and culmination in a creative synthesis (Moustakas, 1990)
Although these phases, as described by Moustakas (1990), strike me as quite idealistic and abstract, they do set the tone for a very nontraditional form of study that “engages one‟s total self and evokes a personal and passionate involvement and active participation in the [research] process” (p. 42).
autobiographical research methods have become increasingly known as “autoethnography” and have been promoted, influenced, and developed by Ellis and Bochner (1999, 2000).
Muncey (2005) added some concrete assistance to the question of “how to do” autoethnography. She suggested the use of snapshots, artifacts/documents, metaphor, and psychological and literal journeys as techniques for reflecting on and conveying a “patchwork of feelings, experiences, emotions, and behaviors that portray a more complete view of . . . life” (p. 10).
A third widely discussed approach to the researcher‟s use of self is personal narrative. Personal narrative is often presented as a typical product of autoethnography but is also proposed as a method unto itself.
Autoethnographers tend to vary in their emphasis on auto- (self), -ethno- (the cultural link), and -graphy (the application of a research process) (Ellis & Bochner, 2000, paraphrasing Reed- Danahay, 1997).
Holt (2001) published an autoethnography that is similar in approach to Sparkes‟s (1996), although it deals with a very different topic. Holt told his story about becoming a graduate teaching assistant in a university and using a three-level reflection strategy to refine his teaching methods.
Duncan, autoethnography was a method of inquiry in which the inner dialogue of the researcher was considered valid, that encouraged systematic reflection, offered an organized and traceable means of data analysis and resulted in a scholarly account (p. 3). Rigor in the research process (“-graphy”)
On the other end of the continuum are a number of examples of personal narrative that rely almost exclusively on a highly personal, evocative writing style, focusing on the auto-, omitting any reference to research conventions, and leaving the reader to make his or her own societal or cultural applications. An essay called “A Choice for K‟aila” (Paulette, 1993) is a mother‟s story about her decision not to permit her infant son, with terminal liver disease, to have a liver transplant.
Despite their wide-ranging characteristics, autoethnographic writings all begin with the researcher‟s use of the subjective self. By using self as a source of data, perhaps the only source, autoethnography has been criticized for being self-indulgent, narcissistic, introspective, and individualized (Atkinson, 1997; Sparkes, 2000).