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What Happened? Ethnographic Stories of the Strategic Road Network

Sideeq Mohammed (Kent Business School, Canterbury, UK)

Ethnographies of Work

ISBN: 978-1-83753-949-9, eISBN: 978-1-83753-948-2

Publication date: 12 December 2023


Good ethnographic work produces stories. Stories are told to us by our interlocutors. We record them in our fieldnotes and read about them in archival or policy documents. We see and hear them occur around us, we participate in them, and they become a core part of our memories of the field. Given that ‘telling stories is one of the fundamental things we do as human beings’ (Falconi & Graber, 2019, p. 1), stories are perhaps the most crucial resource by which we as ethnographers make sense of a field, allowing us to translate what happened to others so that they might be able to vicariously travel through the fields which we studied.

Yet when we look at the ethnographies published in leading management and organization studies journals, stories are increasingly hidden from view. We argue in this short chapter, for a return to storytelling at the centre of the production of ethnography. We seek an opening of the closed world of academic storytelling to those audiences excluded from such networks, including those whom we ethnographers are writing about. We retell nine short stories from an ethnography of Traffic Officers and the breakdowns they encounter on the strategic road network. These vignettes form a non-linear narrative of some of the most emotive and embodied encounters in our fieldwork in transport and mobility spaces between 2018 and 2019. We leave our readers to draw conclusions, implications, and linkages from these stories and offer an invitation to debate and conversation on the themes encountered therein.



Heathcote-Marcz, F. and Mohammed, S. (2023), "What Happened? Ethnographic Stories of the Strategic Road Network", Delbridge, R., Helfen, M., Pekarek, A. and Purser, G. (Ed.) Ethnographies of Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 35), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 157-163.



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