Eng 101- Autoethnography by Chang

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  • 8/12/2019 Eng 101- Autoethnography by Chang



    Title: Autoethnography as Method

    Subtitle: Raising Cultural Consciousness of Self and Others

    Author: Heewon Chang, Ph. D.

    Institution: astern !ni"ersity

    Position: Associate Professor of ducation# Chair of $raduate ducation Progra%s#

    ditor&in&Chief, lectronic Maga'ine of Multicultural ducation


    Contact: astern !ni"ersity

    ducation Depart%ent

    1- agle Road

    St. Da"ids, PA 1/021&-31&14/ (office# hchang5eastern.edu

    21&/23&0011 (ho%e


    Autoethnography is an ethnographic in6uiry that utili'es the auto+iographic %aterials of

    the researcher as the pri%ary data. Differing fro% other self&narrati"e writings such as

    auto+iography and %e%oir, autoethnography e%phasi'es cultural analysis and

    interpretation of the researcher7s +eha"iors, thoughts, and e8periences in relation toothers in society. Autoethnography should +e ethnographical in its %ethodological

    orientation, cultural in its interpreti"e orientation, and auto+iographical in its contentorientation. 9n this chapter the author discusses the definition of this in6uiry %ethod,%ethodology, and +enefits of autoethnography as well as pitfalls to a"oid when doing



    Heewon Chang (Ph. D., !ni"ersity of Oregon is Associate Professor of ducation andChair of $raduate ducation Progra%s at astern !ni"ersity, Pennsyl"ania, !.S.A,

    where she teaches courses on %ulticultural education, research design, gender e6uity

    education, and glo+al education. She founded an open&access e&:ournal,Electronic

    Magazine of Multicultural Education(http)**www.eastern.edu*pu+lications*e%%e, in1/// and has ser"ed as ditor&in&Chief. Her +oo;,Adolescent Life and Ethos: An

    Ethnography of a US High School (1///, . ?rained as an educational anthropologist, she

    ;eeps her research focus on %ulticultural education, anthropology and education, and

    ethnographic and autoethnographic %ethodology. Her li"ed e8perience with the @orean,!S, and $er%an cultures infor% her teaching and research agenda.

  • 8/12/2019 Eng 101- Autoethnography by Chang




    Raisin Cultural Consciousness o! Sel! an" Others

    #hat Is Autoethnora$h%&

    Autoethnography is ethnographical and auto+iographical at the sa%e ti%e. Here 9

    intentionally place ethnographicalB +efore auto+iographicalB to highlight the

    ethnographical character of this in6uiry %ethod. ?his character connotes that

    autoethnography utili'es the ethnographic research %ethods and is concerned a+out the

    cultural connection +etween self and others representing the society. ?his ethnographic

    aspect distinguishes autoethnography fro% other narrati"e&oriented writings such as

    auto+iography, %e%oir, or :ournal.

    llis ochner (> define autoethnography as auto+iographies that self&

    consciously e8plore the interplay of the introspecti"e, personally engaged self with

    cultural descriptions %ediated through language, history, and ethnographic e8planationB

    (p. 3>. Although their definition leans too far toward the auto+iographical than the

    ethnographic end, their o+ser"ation of connecting the personal to the culturalB

    accurately points to the i%portant %ission of autoethnography (p. -/. ?his i%portant

    lin;age +etween the self and the socialB is also e%phasi'ed in Reed&Danahay7s (1//

    oft&6uoted +oo;,Auto/Ethngoraphy: Rewriting the Self and the Social. 9n these wor;s of

    llis, ochner, and Reed&Danahay, the selfB refers to an ethnographer self.

    Howe"er, when the ter% auto&ethnographyB was first introduced +y anthropologist

    Heider (1/4, selfB did not %ean the ethnographer self, +ut rather the infor%ant self. 9n

    his study of Dani people, he called their cultural accounts of the%sel"es the Dani7s

  • 8/12/2019 Eng 101- Autoethnography by Chang



    autoethnography. ?he ter% was used in a si%ilar way when ut' and esio (>3

    discussed the coloni'ed people7s self&understanding. Hayano (1// e%ployed the ter%

    autoethnographyB differently when he studied his own people.B Eolcott (>3

    infor%s us that his own peopleB were card players who spent leisure hours playing

    cards in Southern California7s legiti%ate card roo%sB (p. /0.

    Since then, an e8tensi"e list of la+els has +een used to refer to auto+iographical

    applications in social science research according to llis and ochner (>, pp. -/&


  • 8/12/2019 Eng 101- Autoethnography by Chang



    its content orientation. ?his i%plies that self&reflecti"e writings deficient in any one of

    these ingredients would fall short of auto&ethno&graphy.B

    Metho"olo% o! Autoethnora$h%

    arious %ethodological strategies of autoethnography ha"e +een de"eloped in a

    "ariety of 6ualitati"e research traditions and listed under different na%es (llis

    ochner >, p. 3. ?he list of the na%es is also e8tensi"e according to these authors.

    Regardless of different origins and representations, all the %ethodological strategies

    share the co%%onality of +eing the 6ualitati"e, narrati"e in6uiryB (Clandinin and

    Connelly >. So%e are %ore ethnographic than others in ter%s of its ethnographic

    intent and research process. ?he auto+iographic in6uires with the ethnographic

    orientation are the ones 9 focus on in this chapter.

    =i;e ethnography, autoethnography pursues the ulti%ate goal of cultural

    understanding underlying auto+iographical e8periences. ?o achie"e this ethnographic

    intent, autoethnographers undergo the usual ethnographic research process of data

    collection, data analysis*interpretation, and report writing. ?hey collect field data +y

    %eans of participation, self&o+ser"ation, inter"iew, and docu%ent re"iew# "erify data +y

    triangulating sources and contents# analy'e and interpret data to decipher the cultural

    %eanings of e"ents, +eha"iors, and thoughts# and write autoethnography. =i;e

    ethnographers, autoethnographers are e8pected to treat their auto+iographical data with

    critical, analytical, and interpreti"e eyes to detect cultural undertones of what is recalled,

    o+ser"ed, and told of the%. At the end of a thorough self&e8a%ination within its cultural

  • 8/12/2019 Eng 101- Autoethnography by Chang



    conte8t, autoethnographers hope to gain a cultural understanding of self and others.

    Auto+iographical narrati"es will add li"e details to this principled understanding, +ut

    narration should not do%inate autoethnography. 9n the following su+sections, 9 will

    +rea; down the research process into two interconnected, not always se6uential, steps) (1

    co%posing auto+iographical field te8ts and (> turning auto+iographical field te8ts into


    Co'$osin Autobiora$hical (iel" Te)ts

    ?he initial step of research in"ol"es collecting data, which continues throughout the

    research process with different intensity at different points. Here 9 cautiously introduce a

    new ter% field te8tsB +y Clandinin and Connelly (> to refer to data.B 9 will

    so%eti%es use field te8tsB in lieu of dataB when co%posing field te8tsB descri+es

    %ore accurately what autoethnographers do. Since the ter% dataB has +een traditionally

    associated with 6uantitati"e research in6uiries and autoethnographers accu%ulate

    "olu%inous te8ts as %ultiple data collection acti"ities progress, the ter% field te8tsB is

    :ustifia+ly adopted as an alternati"e to data.B At the sa%e ti%e, 9 a% cautious of

    replacing dataB with field te8tsB co%pletely +ecause autoethnographical fieldwor;B is

    different fro% other 6ualitati"e in6uiries. Ehereas 6ualitati"e*ethnographic fieldwor; is

    li;ely to ta;e place in an en"iron%ent where the researcher co%es in direct contact with

    others, autoethnographic fieldwor; often in"ol"es others in the researchers7 recollection

    and reflection.

    Me%ory is +oth a friend and foe of autoethnographers. Ehereas it allows researchers

    to tap into the wealth of data to which no one else has access, %e%ory selects, shapes,

    li%its, and distorts. Me%ory fades as ti%e goes, +lurring the "itality of details. Dillard

  • 8/12/2019 Eng 101- Autoethnography by Chang



    (cited Clandinin and Connelly > recogni'es +lurringB as s%oothFingG out details,

    lea"ing a ;ind of sche%atic landscape outlineB (p. 0-. Me%ory also triggers a"ersion

    when it atte%pts to dig deeper into unpleasant past e8periences. concur that field te8ts help fill in the richness, nuance, and co%ple8ity of the

    landscape, returning the reflecting researcher to a richer, %ore co%ple8, and pu''ling

    landscape than %e%ory alone is li;ely to constructB (p. 0-.

    Autoethnographers can use "arious techni6ues to facilitate their recalling, organi'e

    %e%ories, and co%pose field te8ts as data. ?he techni6ues of data collection include, +ut

    are not li%ited to, (1 using "isual tools such as free drawings of significant places,

    ;insgra%s,B1and culturegra%sB># (> in"entorying people, artifacts, fa%ilial and

    societal "alues and pro"er+s, %entors, cross&cultural e8periences, and fa"orite*disli;ed

    acti"ities# (- chronicling the autoet