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Tensions in ethnographic observation: overt or covert?

Ruth Strudwick (School of Health Sciences, University of Suffolk, Ipswich, UK)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 14 June 2018

Issue publication date: 16 July 2019



The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the tensions between being covert and overt during ethnographic observations. The example of an ethnographic study of the culture in a diagnostic imaging department will be used to provide examples.


This paper is a reflection on an ethnographic study, focussing on the participant observation.


This paper discusses the author’s reflections on the covert and overt nature of ethnographic observation.


The discussion is of value to all ethnographic researchers who experience this tension.



Strudwick, R. (2019), "Tensions in ethnographic observation: overt or covert?", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 185-195.



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