So you are???

This afternoon I made it away from work to hear someone talk about the ethnographic research they had done on a BDSM ‘community’. I went along hoping that listening to somebody speak about the practicalities of undertaking research where sex and sexuality (often part of the private realm) are a central issue would help me work out how I can start to think about designing my own research. It was a very interesting talk, but now I feel even more helpless. It seemed like everybody had different, but interesting, projects and a degree of maturity that feel like I can only wish for.

The point was made in the talk that when the researcher did not know who she was in the field it lead to some negative reactions form those she was researching. It was when she was told, ‘You are not one of us.’ that they accepted her presence and she was free to really get on with her research. Identity is important in ethnographic research but I could not even muster up enough confidence in myself to introduce myself at the forum. This does not look good!

I like to think I do not need to be completely accepted by the target group in my research, but I do not know my intended project can possibly work when I am targeting a group of individuals who probably do not even self identify as part of a group. How can I develop any rapport to draw on when I will stick out in a way that gives me the least right to be extracting anything out of these people? I have many luxuries open to me that other people could only dream of.

If I feel unsettled about who I am then how can I expect people I need to extract knowledge and information out of to accept and trust me? How do people decide who they are or who they want to be? I feel completely torn between telling myself to stop being so self involved and trying to find some sort of ‘self-development’ tool.

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