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Accepted Paper:

A school librarian questions reading: autoethnography as a method to break away and develop new perspectives  
Anna Söderström (Faculty of Sociology, Anthropology and Folkloristics, University of Iceland)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I discuss how breaking rules of methodology with autoethnographic methods, not only allow researchers to draw from their own experience, but also can be a way for researchers to break barriers of thought and develop new perspectives.

Paper long abstract:

The importance of literacy is heavily emphasized in the contemporary public discourse in Iceland. Politicians make policies about it, researchers make knowledge about it and the media reports on it. Working as a school librarian I knew I should join the choir, but something troubled me so instead I signed up for a PhD-program in ethnology to critically analyze this discourse of reading and its implications. This brought up many new questions of how and why. How to get a new view on a familiar discourse? And why? If everybody else says reading is succeeding, why shouldn’t I?

Still working at the library, I conducted action research to explore, based in practice, what troubled me with the emphasis on literacy. During the research period I kept a research diary, looked back into memories of puzzling moments or other experiences that came to my mind in relation to the subject matter and wrote this down to reflect on it and find alternative solutions to the puzzles.

This autoethnographic method not only allowed me as researcher to draw on my experience from the school library in order to focus my research but also to position myself as a researcher and to develop new perspectives on literacy besides those transmitted through public discourse. Breaking rules of methodology can thus also be a way for researchers to break barriers of thought.

Panel Know03a
Faraway, so close - when subjectivity breaks the rules. Creating knowledge through autoethnography I
  Session 1 Monday 21 June, 2021, -