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Researching Underwater: A Submerged Study

The Lost Ethnographies: Methodological Insights from Projects that Never Were

ISBN: 978-1-78714-774-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-773-7

Publication date: 7 January 2019


This chapter explores the unknown territory of a lost project: an ethnography of a public swimming pool. The discussion is contextualised within my broader sociological theory of ‘nothing’, as a category of unmarked, negative social phenomena, including no-things, no-bodies, no-wheres, non-events and non-identities. These meaningful symbolic objects are constituted through social interaction, which can take two forms: acts of commission and acts of omission. I tell the story of how this project did not happen, through the things I did not do or that did not materialise, and how I consequently did not become a certain type of researcher. I identify three types of negative phenomena that I did not observe and document – invisible figures, silent voices and empty vessels – and, consequently, the knowledge I did not acquire. However, nothing is also productive, generating new symbolic objects as substitutes, alternatives and replacements: the somethings, somebodies and somewheres that are done or made instead. Thus finally, I reflect on how not doing this project led me to pursue others, cultivating a different research identity that would not otherwise have existed.



Scott, S. (2019), "Researching Underwater: A Submerged Study", Smith, R.J. and Delamont, S. (Ed.) The Lost Ethnographies: Methodological Insights from Projects that Never Were (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Vol. 17), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 79-94.



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