Reid, James (2011) The reflexive ethnographer and analysis of subjectivities using the 'voice centred relational model'. In: Oxford Ethnography and Education Conference, 19 - 21 September 2011, New College, University of Oxford. (Unpublished)

Ethnography is much more than a cerebral process; it is personal, intimate and consequently ethically challenging. As a result educational ethnographers have long recognised the need to consider the lens that the researcher brings to the field and hence the relationship between the researcher’s self and the research process. Miller and Russell (2005, p.58), for example, foreground the ‘personal, professional and political standpoints’ of the researcher recognising that these and ‘the broader institutional and societal climate are of particular importance in ethnography’ acknowledging that ‘they influence what topic, where and who is researched; how the subject matter is researched and how, where and what findings are presented’.
This alludes to the possibility of subjectivity and the need for the researcher to understand the relationship between positionality, involving both social and cultural influences, and agency. The researcher’s subjectivity, or sense of self, includes the influence of explicit personal, institutional or societal norms and mores and also the implicit emotions, prejudices, personal biases and distortions that impact upon the research through the researcher’s engagement, thinking and acting. Not only can these factors influence the particular approach adopted by the educational ethnographer but also the experience and outcomes of the research.
In this regard this paper illustrates a first time educational ethnographer’s attention to positionality as an ethical concern and the adaption of the ‘voice centred relational model’ (Mauthner and Doucet 1998, 2003, 2008) as a reflexive tool. This model enables explicit analysis of the researcher’s subjectivities through a series of ‘readings’ of the data so that the:
production of knowledge contain[s] a systematic examination and explication of [researcher] beliefs, biases and social location. This reflexivity ensures that the politics underlying the methods, topics, and governing assumptions of [researcher] scholarship are analyzed directly and self-consciously, rather than remaining unacknowledged (Mauthner and Doucet 1998, p203).

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