To read this content please select one of the options below:

How did I become an abductive ethnographer? Reflections on a research journey

Lila Le Trividic Harrache (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sante Publique, Rennes, France)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




Drawing on part of a French doctorate research journey, the purpose of this paper is to illustrate how an initial research design gets to be questioned and deconstructed when confronted to fieldwork.


The paper reflects on the second year of the doctoral project when the theoretical research object that had been built during the first year was confronted to fieldwork, driving the author to reshape the initial research question.


The paper explains how doing ethnographic work helped the author to deconstruct the author’s own theoretical and epistemological assumptions. The author started to investigate on the uses of pupils’ “mental suffering” in French upper secondary schools and administration in order to understand the labelling process. The author explains how fieldwork, writing and peer-reviewing made the author realise that the author was not focussing on the appropriate categories. Throughout the reflection, the paper highlights the epistemological shift that this journey reveals.


This paper aims to contribute to methodological debates scrutinising the black box of the research process. It aims to be helpful to those experiencing for the first time the chaos of reformulating the research object.



This paper was first presented at the 10th Annual Ethnography Symposium that was held at the University of Liverpool in August 2015. The author is extremely grateful to Mike Rowe for the helpful discussions about this paper, his encouragements to submit it, and his meticulous constructive reviews. The author also wants to thank Patricia Loncle, Virginie Muniglia, Georgia Newman and both JOE reviewers for their precise and constructive comments. They all have helped to improve the initial draft.


Le Trividic Harrache, L. (2017), "How did I become an abductive ethnographer? Reflections on a research journey", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 129-143.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles