Accepted Paper:

Anthropology as Engaged Listening: An Ethnographic Study  

Authors:

Martin Forsey (University of Western Australia)
Jenny Hockey (Sheffield University)

Paper short abstract:

We want to open up the possibility of considering ethnography as participant listening, to place the notion of engaged listening on a similar footing to participant observation in conceptualising ethnographic practice. We argue the case for interview-based studies to be considered ethnographic, asserting that research interviews are culturally appropriate ways of participating in social spaces located in a globalized world that is often chaotic, uncontrolled and unmanageable

Paper long abstract:

We want to open up the possibility of considering ethnography as participant listening, or more usefully perhaps to place the notion of engaged listening on a similar footing to participant observation in our conceptualisation of ethnographic practices. We do not seek to create a new dogma, or a fresh set of false equations, rather the aim is to ask fellow anthropologists to look again at what we say we do and consider this up against what we actually do. It is a truly ethnographic enterprise. There are two reasons for doing so; firstly because it is intellectually interesting to scrutinise ethnographic practice and to consider some of the possible gaps in our awareness and knowledge; secondly because of the discomfort expressed by some colleagues, especially postgraduate researchers, emanating from a deep sense of inadequacy because they are not doing a classical (we call it mythical) participant observer study. Using the two part equation outlined above, if traced backwards we can start to imagine the dilemmas faced by some who can feel their disciplinary identity to be slipping away from them when involved in interview based studies. This response is particularly pronounced among those anthropologists conducting research "at home" (Hockey 2002). We argue the case for interview-based studies to be considered ethnographic, asserting that research interviews are culturally appropriate ways of participating in social spaces located in a globalized world that is often chaotic, uncontrolled and unmanageable (Passaro 1997; c.f Hockey 2002; Forsey In Press).

Panel P06
The interview as imagined space: authentic data and the extraordinary occasion