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Title: Ethnographic returning, qualitative longitudinal research and the reflexive analysis of social practice
Authors: O'Reilly, Karen
Keywords: Ethnography
Qualitative longitudinal
Practice theory
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: © 2012 The Author. The Sociological Review © 2012 The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review
Citation: O'REILLY, K., 2012. Ethnographic returning, qualitative longitudinal research and the reflexive analysis of social practice. Sociological Review, 60 (3), pp. 518 - 536
Abstract: This paper makes the argument that ethnographic returning, in which ethnographers return to their field over time, and which is an engaged and long-term ethnography,can be considered a form of longitudinal qualitative study that can inform a reflexive analysis of the practice, or unfolding, of social life. Longitudinal qualitative studies have been designed as longitudinal at the outset and therefore have a specific focus on temporality, processes and social change. They often have an implicit theory of social change informing the analyses. Re-studies revisit the field site or community, and update or challenge the work of earlier researchers. These also tend to focus on change, if not so much on processes or time.Though their work is rarely labelled longitudinal, it is also quite common for ethnographers to return to the field and their (changing) communities over time, and here some focus on change is also inevitable. I call this ethnographic returning. All such temporal approaches require a constructive and positive approach to reflexivity, in which research is enhanced by acknowledgement that the social world, the academic world and the personal world of the researcher are intermingled and co-created through the ongoing process of social life. But, more than this, reflexivity needs to be relocated within a theory of the reflexive nature of social life (a theory of practice). I illustrate, through my own work, and drawing on the wider field of study on British migration to Spain, the contribution that participant observation and ethnographic returning can make to this endeavour.
Description: This article is in Closed Access.
Sponsor: I thank the Economic and Social Research Council for funding this research on two occasions and through my PhD studentship and through grant reference R000223944.
Version: Published
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2012.02097.x
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/18322
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2012.02097.x
ISSN: 0038-0261
Appears in Collections:Closed Access (Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies)

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