"Being there"?: Considering time and space when dis/embedding ethnographic activities of participants in randomised controlled trial
(University of Sheffield)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines how I "dis/embed” my ethnographic with people with dementia taking part in a randomised controlled trial by including and removing myself from the trial's everyday activities in terms of space, time and location so as to negotiate the complexities of working in this context.
Paper long abstract:
Pressure from government and external funding agencies increasingly require complex national or international research projects to explore how interventions and phenomena studied affect research participants directly and stakeholders indirectly. This challenges qualitative social scientists to work in a variety of new organisational and cultural research contexts. However, qualitative methodologists are challenged to design and implement an appropriate methodology to complement the work produced in these large-scale projects: Participant groups may be constituted by processes of randomisation rather than 'natural' communities, how trialists and ethnographers understand what 'meaningful' data is may be contested, and specific types of knowledge and expertise are favoured by different stakeholders involved in the management of the study. This paper will reflect on how I designed and conceptualised my ethnographic fieldwork with people with dementia and their informal carers using technology at home linked with a national, randomised controlled trial. This drew on Marcus' concept of "multi-sited ethnography" and Lewis and Russell's concept of "embedded ethnography" to conceptualise how my field is "de-territorialised" by operating in the context of national trial yet still enabled me to "be there". I also examine how I "dis/embed" by regularly negotiating my including and removing myself from the trial's everyday activities in terms of space, time and location so as to negotiate the practicalities of research design, ethical approvals, participant recruitment, and data collection.
Ethnography and evaluation: temporalities of complex systems and methodological complexity