From a Reflexive to a Diffractive Ethnographic Enquiry in Management Research: An Outline for a Promising Methodological Approach
Posted: 17 Sep 2015 Last revised: 16 Dec 2017
Date Written: June 15, 2015
Reflexivity is often considered fundamental for the ‘production’ of responsible and ethical ethnographic work. Through reflexivity one can account as a researcher and author of the ethnographic practice, and acknowledge one’s responsibilities in knowledge-making and the impact this work has on others. Yet, it has been suggested that same practice has a darker side, as it tends to ‘overshadowing participants’, producing a ‘warped narcissism’, and ‘self-indulgence’. We explore these argumentative positions on reflexivity in ethnography, and clarify that the premise of a “narcissism” critique is an ontology of separateness that the concept embeds. We suggest and illustrate empirically how an ontology of inseparability of participants and researchers, such as one engrained in diffraction, can contribute in extricating narcissist tendencies of those ethnographic works weighting more on the left side of the “Self-Other” continuum. Our theoretical contribution is to elaborate a framework enabling a politically responsible ethnographic practice, which takes differences as methodological premise for grasping a phenomenon.
Keywords: Reflexivity, diffraction, ethnography, political responsibility
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