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The Emergence of Critical Presence Ethnography: Capturing the Ripples of Self in Educational Contexts

New Directions in Educational Ethnography

ISBN: 978-1-78441-624-9, eISBN: 978-1-78441-623-2

Publication date: 17 December 2016


The purpose of this chapter is to propose a new direction in ethnographic research in education through the emergence of critical presence ethnography (CPE). Through a review of the evolution of the field of ethnography as well as the positionality of the self as ethnographer, this chapter illuminates the ways in which critical ethnographic commitments and critical reflexivity can support a critical presence perspective that captures the ways in which the researcher impacts the internal epistemology and ontology of the research environment. This chapter is a conceptual chapter and does not include a specific research design, methods, or approaches. As a conceptual piece, there are no clear-cut findings, however a review of the extant literature concerning the field of ethnography is presented as well as the roles, opportunities, and tensions that ethnographers experience in the field. Based on the authors’ ethnographic work in the field, they employ a CPE to capture the ripples of self in the research context.

The limitations of this work are that it is only presented in its conceptual form and has not been implemented nor tested in the field. As such, the implications of this work are that it be further developed and operationalized in the field of ethnography. Upon implementation and in depth testing, CPE may have the potential to positively impact the way in which education ethnographers manage researcher identity, conceptions of the self, and researcher bias within a given context. This chapter builds upon a strong body of literature concerning ethnography and critical ethnography in education. Using these processes of ethnography and the ways in which the positionality of the ethnographic researcher have been conceptualized and operationalized in the extant ethnographic literature, our work seeks to provide a way in which the ethnographer can measure his or her impact on the given context. Although infant in our conceptualization, we aspire to contribute to the conversation about ethnography, researcher positionality, and context.



Allen, A. and Hancock, S.D. (2016), "The Emergence of Critical Presence Ethnography: Capturing the Ripples of Self in Educational Contexts", New Directions in Educational Ethnography (Studies in Educational Ethnography, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 121-139.



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