Writing Autoethnography and Narrative in Qualitative Research

 Art Bochner and Carolyn Ellis

 This workshop will focus on writing and reading personal narratives about lived experience and on reflexively including researchers’ selves and their interaction with participants in ethnographic projects. Instructors will moderate discussions on perceiving ourselves as story-writers and living a writing life. Topics covered will include: narrative truth; ethics; developing scenes, characters, conversation, and dramatic action; writing vulnerably and evocatively; truth and memory; writing as inquiry; interactive interviews and co-constructed narratives; evaluating and publishing autoethnography. Participants will have an opportunity to write and present (if they wish) a short evocative story and to read and respond to a short, published personal narrative. This workshop is appropriate for those new to autoethnography and narrative inquiry as well as those who have had considerable experience in these approaches to qualitative research.

Doing Situational Analysis

Rachel Washburn and Adele Clarke

Situational analysis is an extension of grounded theory for analyzing qualitative data including interview, ethnographic, historical, visual, and/or other discursive materials. It is especially useful for multi-site research, feminist and critical inquiry. Emphasis is on grasping often messy complexities in the data and understanding relations among the elements constitutive of the situation.

There are four main mapping approaches:

  1. Situational maps lay out the major human, nonhuman, discursive and other elements in the research situation and provoke analysis of relations among them;
  2. Relational maps push analysts to specify relations among the different elements;
  3. Social worlds/arenas maps lay out the collective actors and the arena(s) of commitment and discourse within which they are engaged in ongoing negotiations—interpretations of the collective social situation; and
  4. Positional maps lay out the major positions taken and not taken in the discursive data vis-à-vis particular axes of difference, concern, and controversy around issues in the situation of inquiry.

Through mapping, the analyst constructs the situation of inquiry empirically. The situation per se becomes the ultimate unit of analysis. The maps themselves offer coherent means of representing the analysis useful for presentations and publications. The maps can be reconstructed over time to specify emergent elements in the research situation about which data have been and/or still need to be gathered. The maps thus intentionally work against the usual simplifications so characteristic of research.

This workshop will provide an introduction to situational analysis and the major mapping strategies noted above. We will place particular emphasis on developing situational maps. These can be used for initial project design and later revised in a flexible and iteratively responsive manner across the duration of the project. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to come to the workshop with a draft map and be prepared to discuss it in the group. The workshop goal is to help participants get a strong analytic grip on the situation they are studying.

For more information on SA, see:

Clarke, Adele E., Carrie Friese, and Rachel Washburn, eds. Forthcoming 2021. Situational Analysis in Practice: Mapping Research with Grounded Theory, Second Edition. London: Routledge.

Clarke, Adele E., Carrie Friese, and Rachel Washburn. 2018. Situational Analysis: Grounded Theory After the Interpretive Turn, Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Clarke, Adele E., in conversation with R. Keller. 2014. Engaging Complexities: Working Against Simplification as an Agenda for Qualitative Research Today. FQS Forum: Qualitative Social Research 15(2). Online: index.php/fqs/article/view/2186/3667.

Contextualizing Netnography

Robert Kozinets and Ulrike Gretzel

This workshop is dedicated to providing participants with frameworks and tools allowing them to understand and adapt netnography to the range of complex and changing circumstances that face the contemporary qualitative researcher. Netnography assembles the methods of ethnography and other qualitative research practices and applies them to the investigation of techno-social experiences encompassed by, and reflected within, the traces, networks, and platforms of social media. Netnography differs from general modes of digital inquiry by its emphasis on contextualized understanding, and it differs from other forms of online or digital ethnography because it provides specific, toolbox-level, procedural guidelines. These guidelines have been constructed to provide qualitative researchers across multiple fields with a methodological approach that is consistent, rigorous, clear, ethical, and adaptable. Netnography can be applied to a range of social media platforms, large and small, public and private, from community forums to Pinterest boards to Snapchat exchanges. In response to dynamic changes in socio-technical realities, netnography evolves and netnographers must adapt.

Some of the changing circumstances requiring methodological adaptation, which we will discuss in this workshop, include:

  • Multi-person researcher collaborations in netnography;
  • Multi-platform studies;
  • Studies of (audio)visual media;
  • Working within private and closed social networks;
  • Navigating GDPR and data ethics issues;
  • Utilizing data from mobile communications;
  • The impact and opportunities of algorithms;
  • Researcher engagement vs. participation.

Analyzing Images in Visual Research

Kerry Freedman and Richard Siegesmund

Working with material from Kerry Freedman and Richard Siegesmund’s new research book on visual methods, the workshop introduces applications of visual imagery analysis across a broad range of visual culture. The workshop offers new materialism as an entry way to understanding the application of tacit knowledge when creating, collecting, and analyzing visual materials.  The workshop will consider the ways that visual knowledge can expand research methods in the social sciences.  The visual has become so deeply embedded in culture that all qualitative researchers across disciplines require expertise in visual methods, not just those researchers who seek to pursue arts-based research methodologies.

Keeping in mind the needs of a researcher who has not had an extensive background in visual art, the workshop will offer criteria for the use of visual methods in qualitative inquiry that will help researchers sharpen their analytical skills. Analyzing images requires an understanding of tacit knowledge, new materialism, and the application of visual culture theories, which differ from the standard semiotic approach taken in most visual methods textbooks.  The workshop will focus on the sensory, pre-linguistic embodied empirical evidence in the visual.

Workshop Outcomes:

  • Present analytical strategies that address the form, function, and content of visual images in order to enhance and improve social science methods;
  • Define and apply a new visual benchmarking system (Image as Record, Image as Data, Image as Study, and Image as Theory) that can be used in virtually any research methodology that incorporates visual sources.

Teaching and Learning Qualitative Research Methods Principles Through Popular Film Clips

Johnny Saldaña

This workshop/mini-film festival introduces students and instructors of qualitative research courses pedagogical strategies for using popular film clips to teach and learn principles and methods of inquiry.

Popular film clips can be used to: 1) introduce qualitative research topics; 2) illustrate basic principles and techniques of inquiry; 3) generate classroom discussion and reflection; 4) clarify misunderstood concepts; 5) function as referential mnemonics; and 6) teach selected principles more effectively than traditional classroom pedagogy. Some examples of showcased film scenes and their topics include: The Matrix (ontology, epistemology, methodology, axiology); Miss Evers’ Boys (research ethics); Kinsey (interviewing); Fargo (inductive reasoning); and Experimenter: The Stanley Milgram Story (theory).

Mediated instruction has a longstanding tradition in grades K-12 classrooms, and the power of “edutainment” in our visually-oriented, digital, and performative culture should not be underestimated or dismissed by university professors for their advanced undergraduate and graduate-level classrooms. Popular film viewing offers novelty and engagement in traditional learning settings, and holds the potential to vividly instruct as well as entertain.

This mini-film festival will also include recommendations for related learning activities (e.g., discussion, categorizing, assertion development, thematic analysis); how selected learning strategies can precede and follow popular film clip viewing; and how to access related media and software for teaching resource development.

Methodological Practices for the Moving Body

Pirkko Markula and Jim Denison

In this workshop, we will explore the different approaches and modes of analysis by which the body can be studied, known, and understood. We will organize our discussion based on the following three paradigmatic approaches and their relevance to body methodologies:

  • Interpretive methodological practices that include such concepts as narrativity, embodiment, and reflexivity;
  • Critical methodological practices that include such concepts as hegemony, intersectionality, and empowerment;
  • Poststructuralist methodological practices that include such concepts as power, knowledge, self, and materiality.

We illustrate our discussion by providing examples from various qualitative methods that follow the premise of each methodological practice.

Qualitatively-driven Mixed and Multiple Methods Research

Jan Morse and Julianne Cheek

The purpose of this workshop is to explore how to make qualitative contributions to mixed-methods and multiple methods research accessible and powerful.  The goal is to clarify methodological strategies that ensure qualitative components become as robust as possible when used in mixed- and multiple methods.  The key message of the workshop is that we must not detach qualitative forms of data used in mixed and multiple methods research from the wider field of qualitative inquiry, to which qualitative methods must relate.  If the contribution of qualitative inquiry is minimized, through for example the “norm” in mixed-method research being qualitative inquiry understood as the supplementary component in quantitatively-driven mixed-method design, then qualitative research cannot reach its full potential and the study loses explanatory power. On the other hand, robust qualitatively-driven inquiry may make a substantial contribution to mixed-method design, elaborating, humanizing, and expanding understanding.

In this workshop we will consider what qualitatively-driven mixed-method and research is and might be.  We will consider the use of sampling, pacing, and reflexivity in this type of research. We will explore principles to assist researchers in clarifying and appreciating the contributions of qualitative inquiry to mixed-methods and multiple methods research. As well we will examine what reviewers of this research often identify as problems with the way this research is presented and written about and what this can tell us. Finally, we will consider what this might all mean for qualitatively driven research programs.

Formatting and Framing Qualitative Research for Presentation and Publication: Principles and Practical Steps

Sarah Tracy

How can you format and frame qualitative research for successful presentation and publication? In this workshop, we will discuss key principles and practical steps for creating qualitative research reports, how to deal with common challenges in publishing and presentation, and ways to frame qualitative research for target audiences so that it is heard as interesting, significant, and resonant.

Anticipated outcomes include the following. Participants will:

  • Consider the rule of utility in terms of how to craft the most appropriate research representation. E.g., do you want to change a policy? A theory? A practice? A politic?
  • Identify the most receptive outlets for your research.
  • Learn strategies for “being interesting” and significant to key audiences.
  • Discuss how to manage the difficulty of fitting inductive or iterative qualitative research into expectations of deductive journal article formats.
  • Examine how key aspects of the qualitative research representations – such as the methodology section, findings, and implications – are formatted and framed.
  • Explore ways to craft and format qualitative research that both SHOWs and TELLs through use of rich description, quotations, and visual artistry.
  • Brainstorm alternative representations such as white papers, social media, Wikipedia pages, performances, and blogs.

Target participants include those new to qualitative methods as well as those experienced who want to improve the visibility, impact, and value of their research representations. Resources for this workshop will include affiliated worksheets and activities from S. Tracy’s Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact.

Writing Qualitative Inquiry: Embracing the Mystery

Christopher Poulos

At the end of Writing the New Ethnography, Dr. H.L. “Bud” Goodall, Jr. (2000) called on researchers to fully “embrace the mystery” of human social research, and to engage “a dialogic ethic and a transformational vision” aimed at “evolving to a higher state of scholarly consciousness(p. 198).  As a way to enact that vision, this workshop focuses on writing as a primary method of qualitative inquiry (Richardson, 2000). Rather than approaching writing as “writing up” results, we will practice various ways to write our way into and through the richness and mystery of qualitative inquiry from the very beginning of a project.  The emphasis will be on writing as a process for finding your way through the morass of questions, experiences, events, data, and oddities that arise during the research process. Through a series of writing exercises, we will work on: 1) honing the craft of writing qualitative inquiry through vigorous, engaged practice; 2) understanding and attracting readers; 3) searching for relevance, richness, resonance, and reflexivity in your writing; 4) writing ethnographic, autoethnographic, narrative, and other qualitative texts as a means to personal, relational, and social change; and 5) balancing structure and improvisation in the crafting of written texts, performances, and other expressions of research.

Composing Bodies: Performative Autoethnography as Qualitative Research

Tami Spry

“Experiencing language as a transformative force was not an awareness that I arrived at through writing. I discovered it through performance.”

– bell hooks, Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work

Why performative autoethnography? How will performance methods ground and expand my research? This interactive workshop introduces performative autoethnography, a method assisting in articulating our embodied relations with others in culture.  We will cover:

  • How performance methods assist in the composition of performative autoethnographic and other qualitative research methods.
  • How to access and articulate bodily knowledge as part of a larger experiential research assemblage.
  • How to critically reflect upon and articulate one’s experiences with others in contexts.
  • How to activate awareness of the body’s involvement with and relationship to others, culture, and other materialities.
  • How the composition and performance process continually forms and reforms the body, the body of the text, the text of the body, and ultimately offers a deep and intimate understanding of self/other/culture which are part of agentic material assemblages.

One need not have performance experience or have any intention of performing to benefit from performative autoethnography as a methodology of research and knowledge construction.