This panel invites researchers to share insights on the role of ethnography as reflexive instrument in the realm of social problem definition, public discussion agendas and social intervention
Social sciences, particularly anthropology, use ethnography to reach deeper subjective and symbolic extents of human action. Often, ethnographic objects overlap certain manifestations commonly envisioned as social problems. As such, these problems become the focus of constant public debates as well as the subject of wide political framing and lawmaking initiative; the very same problems often targeted by specialized technical intervention through multiple agencies and professionals. Ethnography may offer important reflexive insights to question, if not to redefine, the very own problematic nature of the issues subject of social intervention. On one hand, ethnography brings forward layers of knowledge grounded on empirical close contact with social actors, agencies and institutions that uphold social policies and carry out intervention programs and measures; on the other hand, ethnography might shape methodological instruments within the operative devices social intervention professionals use (e.g. social workers). This panel invites researchers whose ethnographic gamut focus on social problems and ponder on the political, cultural and social processes that lead to its production and reification. Reflexive ethnographies (non compliant with dominant media agendas) that might present alternative understandings to mainstream public debate assumptions are welcome. Papers may fit two major frames: (1) ethnographic research cases that contribute to question, redefine and rearrange public discussions over social problems and the very own conceptualization of social problems; (2) cases where ethnography becomes clearly implicated in the definition of social intervention strategies and/or in the definition of social policies.