Revealing the hidden performances of social work practice: The ethnographic process of gaining access, getting into place and impression management.

Leigh, Jadwiga, Disney, Tom, Warwick, Lisa, Ferguson, Harry, Beddoe, Liz and Cooner, Tarsem (2020) Revealing the hidden performances of social work practice: The ethnographic process of gaining access, getting into place and impression management. Qualitative Social Work: Research and Practice. ISSN 1473-3250 (In Press)

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Abstract

Whilst the empirical process of research highlights substantive findings, understanding the methodological approach in which access is gained and sustained on field sites is also an integral part of the data. Gaining access in ethnographic studies, in particular, is a complex task which requires researchers to continually negotiate systems and processes in order that they may reflect on the socially embedded practices of their chosen fields. However once the researchers are accepted, the ethnographer then has to be aware of the effect their presence has on the field and that access is continual process of negotiation and contestation. Based on a longitudinal study which conducted a 15-month ethnography in two social work organizations, this article will explore the dilemmas various members of a research team experienced when trying to blend into the different sites. And then, once having achieved their desired position, the challenges they encountered when they realized their presence was affecting the performances of their participants. We conclude by discussing the importance of reflexivity, power and ethics. Ethnographic research may be a more natural way for researchers to collect data but it is also a method which positions researchers in situations where they can easily influence encounters and, in effect, become part of the findings as well.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ethnography; Gaining access; Performativity; Dramaturgy; Emotional labour; Impression Management; Goffman
Subjects: L300 Sociology
L600 Anthropology
L700 Human and Social Geography
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 19 May 2020 08:46
Last Modified: 19 May 2020 08:46
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/43181

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