Ethnography as method, methodology, and "deep theorizing": closing the gap between text and context in academic writing research

Lillis, Theresa (2008). Ethnography as method, methodology, and "deep theorizing": closing the gap between text and context in academic writing research. Written Communication, 25(3) pp. 353–388.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0741088308319229

Abstract

This article critically explores the value of ethnography for enhancing context-sensitive approaches to the study of academic writing. Drawing on data from two longitudinal studies, student writing in the United Kingdom and professional academic writing in Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, and Portugal, the author illustrates the different contributions ethnography can make to researching academic writing, depending on the level at which it is construed, as method, methodology, or "deep theorizing." In discussing the third level of ethnography, the author draws on recent debates around linguistic ethnography to explore how ethnography as deep theorizing can contribute to refining social practice accounts of academic writing through the specific notions of indexicality and orientation. By working through three levels of ethnography, her aim is to signal the ontological gap between text and context in academic writing research and to open up debate about how this gap can be narrowed.

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