Learning to see the wood through the trees as a PhD ethnographer

Bloomfield, Sarah (2021). Learning to see the wood through the trees as a PhD ethnographer. In: Kostera, Monika and Harding, Nancy eds. Organizational Ethnography. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 200–216.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781786438102.00017

Abstract

Conducting an ethnography during a PhD can feel like being lost in a deep dark wood. But that is to be expected. Based on personal reflections from conducting ethnographic fieldwork and data analysis as a doctoral researcher, this paper discusses benefits of getting lost in the data; the fact that there is no pre-defined map to follow to generate contributions; and how to feel less alone during the ethnographic experience. The paper highlights that there is no one correct way to conduct ethnographic research, nor one correct interpretation of an ethnographic data set. Framing the ethnography as their own personal learning experience should help reassure the PhD ethnographer, enabling them to enjoy rather than endure getting lost in the wood.

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