Performing the role of ethnographer: processing and managing the emotional dimensions of prison research

Drake, Deborah and Harvey, Joel (2014). Performing the role of ethnographer: processing and managing the emotional dimensions of prison research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 17(5) pp. 489–501.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2013.769702

Abstract

This article presents a reflective account of the emotional dimensions of in-depth field research in prisons. Drawing on the work of Goffman to make sense of ethnographic processes and techniques, it is argued that performance and impression management play crucial roles in the research process. However, it is suggested that there are commensurate emotional costs associated with the roles and identities that ethnographers might enact in the field. It is argued that the finer details of ethnographic practice can be better understood when the emotional dimensions of research experiences are carefully analysed and processed.

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