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Culture, consent and confidentiality in workplace autoethnography

Catherine Lee (Department of Education, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 22 June 2018

Issue publication date: 26 September 2018




The purpose of this paper is to examine the author’s experiences as a school teacher and a lesbian. It considers the culture and discourses of power in the school and the ethical implications of telling the author’s story. Utilizing autoethnography as a method of inquiry, it draws on a critical incident to explore the incompatibility of the author’s private and professional identities, and reflect on the impact of homophobic and heteronormative discursive practices in the workplace, on health, well-being and identity.


This research is grounded in an interpretivist philosophy. It utilizes writing about the self as a method of inquiry.


This research examines the incompatibility of the author’s private and professional identities and offers insight into the steps that those in positions of power will take to protect and perpetuate the heteronormative discourse of rural life.

Research limitations/implications

This research presents the perspective of only one lesbian teacher in a rural context. Consequently, generalizations are inappropriate and recommendations are difficult. Whilst the absence of clear ethical regulation presents an infinite number of possibilities for autoethnographers, the silence that surrounds the prescription of the ethics of autoethnography leaves those of us at the beginnings of our research careers without clear guidance.


This research specifically addresses a dearth of research examining the experiences of the rural lesbian (or gay) teacher in the UK. Headteachers of rural schools must ensure that their schools are inclusive and welcoming environments for teachers, and their equalities policies are living documents that are not simply cast aside in the face of rural parent power. Young people in the countryside deserve access to the full pool of teaching talent and should have access to the diverse role models that their urban and suburban counterparts are beginning to enjoy.



Lee, C. (2018), "Culture, consent and confidentiality in workplace autoethnography", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 302-319.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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