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Affective ethnography: reflections on the application of “useful” research on workplace diversity

Lotte Holck (Department of Organisation, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 24 July 2018

Issue publication date: 21 August 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critically reflect on the affective entanglement of both researcher and practitioners in a study of workplace diversity with a transformative agenda.

Design/methodology/approach

Events and experiences related to interventions in a municipal center are presented. The study is embedded in critical diversity research and applies engaged ethnographic methods.

Findings

The researcher reflects on how interventions designed to challenge the status quo faced difficulties while considering the impact of the research entry point, efforts to mobilize organizational members in favor of a diversity agenda and the micro-politics of doing intervention-based research.

Practical implications

The study reflects on how “useful” research with an allegedly emancipatory agenda might not be considered favorable to neither majority nor minority employees. The notion of affectivity is applied to deal with the organizational members’ multi-voiced response to the change efforts, as well as how the researcher’s position as researcher-change agent critically shaped the fieldwork experiences and their interpretation.

Originality/value

Few critical diversity scholars engage with practitioners to produce “useful” research with practical implications. In doing so, this paper contributes to critical diversity methods by exploring why presumably emancipatory initiatives apparently did not succeed, despite organizational goodwill. This involves questioning the implied assumption of the inherent “good” of emancipation, as well as notions of “useful research.”

Keywords

Citation

Holck, L. (2018), "Affective ethnography: reflections on the application of “useful” research on workplace diversity", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 218-234. https://doi.org/10.1108/QROM-11-2016-1456

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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