To explore how the writing of ethnographic texts in the field of health, medicine and social care is constrained and constructed by competing political, ideological, interdisciplinary and economic pressures and how this impacts on our ability to retain a critical ethnographic voice.
Health and medical ethnography are intricately tied into a range of bio-political fields, where the ethnographic researcher is often caught as arbiter between the moral, local and oft-times invisible worlds of human suffering and an increasing range of institutional demands, such as the provision of a 'useful' evidence base as aid to intervention, medical practice and governance as well as the production of academic articles as grist to universities competitive and market advantage. It is becoming more difficult to promote a critical ethnographic voice that moves beyond the constraints of these multiple constrained fields. Our relationship to powerful interests has generated a series of theoretical and practical concerns in the politics of ethnographic evidence, summarised as: • Whose evidence counts in the production of ethnographic texts and how is this evidence generated? • In whose interests are ethnographic texts produced? • What do we mean by accountability; to whom are we accountable and how do we analytically demonstrate this? • In what respect can texts be described as 'sites of resistance' (Schepper-Hughes 1992), and does this produce an obligation to take the readings of our work outside the 'academic factory'? We invite papers that elaborate on analytical challenges underpinning the politics of interviewing in ethnography, involving a repositioning of what we mean in data analysis as we strive to articulate issues of social justice, human rights, and the experiences of the invisible, abstract or typified social actor and avoid the apparent inevitability of anaemic or bloodless ethnographic analyses (Willis, 1981).