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Article
Publication date: 29 January 2020

Claire Jin Deschner and Léa Dorion

The purpose of this paper is to question the idea of “passing a test” within activist ethnography. Activist ethnography is an ethnographic engagement with social movement…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to question the idea of “passing a test” within activist ethnography. Activist ethnography is an ethnographic engagement with social movement organizations as anti-authoritarian, anarchist, feminist and/or anti-racist collectives. It is based on the personal situating of the researcher within the field to avoid a replication of colonialist research dynamics. Addressing these concerns, we explore activist ethnography through feminist standpoint epistemologies and decolonial perspectives.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on our two activist ethnographies conducted as PhD research in two distinct European cities with two different starting points. While Léa entered the field through her PhD research, Claire partly withdrew and re-entered as academic.

Findings

Even when activist researchers share the political positioning of the social movement they want to study, they still experience tests regarding their research methodology. As activists, they are accountable to their movement and experience – as most other activist – a constant threat of exclusion. In addition, activist networks are fractured along political lines, the test is therefore ongoing.

Originality/value

Our contribution is threefold. First, the understanding of tests within activist ethnography helps decolonizing ethnography. Being both the knower and the known, activist ethnographers reflect on the colonial and heterosexist history of ethnography which offers potentials to use ethnography in non-exploitative ways. Second, we conceive of activist ethnography as a prefigurative methodology, i.e. as an embedded activist practice, that should therefore answer to the same tests as any other practice of prefigurative movements: it should aim to enact here and now the type of society the movement reaches for. Finally, we argue that activist ethnography relies on and contribute to developing consciousness about the researcher’s political subjectivity.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 March 2019

Marine Cambefort and Elyette Roux

This paper aims to provide a typology of perceived risk in the context of consumer brand resistance and thus answers the following question: how do consumers perceive the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide a typology of perceived risk in the context of consumer brand resistance and thus answers the following question: how do consumers perceive the risk they take when resisting brands?

Design/methodology/approach

Two qualitative methods were used. In-depth interviews were carried out with 15 consumers who resist brands. An ethnography was carried out for ten months in an international pro-environmental NGO.

Findings

This multiple qualitative method design led to the identification of four types of risks taken by consumers. The four categories of perceived risks identified are performance (lack of suitable alternatives for the brand), social issues (stigma and exclusion), legal reasons (legal proceedings) or physical considerations (violation of physical integrity). These risks are located along a continuum of resistance intensity. Resistance intensity levels are avoidance, offline word-of-mouth, online word-of-mouth, boycott, activism and finally extreme acts.

Originality/value

This study provides a framework that integrates perceived risks within the context of brand resistance. The paper highlights extreme acts of resistance and questions the limits of such behaviors.

Details

Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 28 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1061-0421

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Book part
Publication date: 4 May 2020

Matthew C. Canfield

As social movements engage in transnational legal processes, they have articulated innovative rights claims outside the nation-state frame. This chapter analyzes emerging…

Abstract

As social movements engage in transnational legal processes, they have articulated innovative rights claims outside the nation-state frame. This chapter analyzes emerging practices of legal mobilization in response to global governance through a case study of the “right to food sovereignty.” The claim of food sovereignty has been mobilized transnationally by small-scale food producers, food-chain workers, and the food insecure to oppose the liberalization of food and agriculture. The author analyzes the formation of this claim in relation to the rise of a “network imaginary” of global governance. By drawing on ethnographic research, the author shows how activists have internalized this imaginary within their claims and practices of legal mobilization. In doing so, the author argues, transnational food sovereignty activists co-constitute global food governance from below. Ultimately, the development of these practices in response to shifting forms of transnational legality reflects the enduring, mutually constitutive relationship between law and social movements on a global scale.

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Article
Publication date: 12 September 2016

Leon Ayo Sealey-Huggins

The purpose of this paper is to interrogate the forms of activist organisation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP16 in Cancún and reveals…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to interrogate the forms of activist organisation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP16 in Cancún and reveals their attempts to create alternatives to a seemingly “depoliticised” response to climate change. The paper argues that existing attempts to challenge depoliticisation face problems in the form of governmental opposition, limitations on forms of organising, and internal conflicts between activists.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper utilises “scholar-activist” engagement with actors at alternative “popular” spaces established outside the COP16 in Cancún, Mexico. It draws upon extensive participant observation and in-depth interviews with 20 English-speaking activists.

Findings

Common among activists was a concern to try and model alternative forms of social relations, to the depoliticised and hierarchical forms found in the formal Conference of Parties, via forms of anarchist-influenced “prefigurative” practice. In spite, or perhaps because, of perceived challenges to attempts to organise their political praxis along non-hierarchical lines, many people were ambivalent about the scope of their action, revealing highly reflexive accounts of the limitations of these whilst simultaneously remaining pragmatic in trying to make the most of their involvement.

Originality/value

The paper helps us to better understand the potential to politicise climate change. Understanding the challenges faced by activists is important for trying to organise more effective political responses to climate injustice. It is suggested that we must understand activists’ responses to these challenges and limitations in terms of the pragmatism in response that allows them to continue to invest in activism in the face of unsuccessful actions.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 36 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 28 November 2016

Johanna F. Gollnhofer

Research has shown that activist consumers create places that are imbued with idiosyncratic meanings, conventions, rules, and activities. However, research on why and how…

Abstract

Purpose

Research has shown that activist consumers create places that are imbued with idiosyncratic meanings, conventions, rules, and activities. However, research on why and how such places are created is scant.

Methodology/approach

This ethnography in the context of voluntary refugee helpers shows why and how a meaningful place is produced.

Findings

By drawing on spatial theory from human geography, I map out how activist consumers create a hyper-place: embedded in the dynamics of demarcating and linking, voluntary helpers set a place apart from the surrounding space and other places. This place allows for practices that combine materiality, activities, and meanings in new ways in comparison to practices in traditional places. This place allows for the enactment and the conveyance of values that are not accommodated in traditional marketplaces.

Originality/value

I contribute to literature on activist consumers and the role of place within consumer research.

Details

Consumer Culture Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-495-2

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Book part
Publication date: 22 December 2017

Hava Rachel Gordon

This chapter considers some of the divergent outcomes of youth mobilization and participation in offline spaces, particularly in the youth nonprofit. Critics of youth…

Abstract

This chapter considers some of the divergent outcomes of youth mobilization and participation in offline spaces, particularly in the youth nonprofit. Critics of youth online political participation detail several shortcomings of online activism as compared to offline activism, but in so doing, these critics venerate offline activism as a utopic alternative. Based on qualitative research in three organizations that mobilize youth around issues of education reform, this chapter demonstrates that the offline youth activist nonprofit fosters political power among some youth while burning out other youth. For teenage activists, these nonprofit organizations offer political education, institutional leverage, and foster political efficacy. At the same time, older youth organizers who are paid staff in these same organizations struggle with having to reign in the radicalism of the youth they mentor, while performing invisible labor around the demands of their organizational funders. These organizational pressures work to burn out youth organizers and steer them away from politics. Online forms of youth activism bring about outcomes that both enhance the political capacities of youth as well as hinder their potential to transform social injustices. Far from utopic, offline movement contexts also foster these contradictory outcomes and should be considered more critically in the debates over the merits of offline versus online activism.

Details

Social Movements and Media
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-098-3

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 2 February 2021

Caroline Cupit, Janet Rankin and Natalie Armstrong

The main purpose of this paper is to document the first author's experience of using institutional ethnography (IE) to “take sides” in healthcare research. The authors…

Abstract

Purpose

The main purpose of this paper is to document the first author's experience of using institutional ethnography (IE) to “take sides” in healthcare research. The authors illustrate the points with data and key findings from a study of cardiovascular disease prevention.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use Dorothy E Smith's IE approach, and particularly the theoretical tool of “standpoint”.

Findings

Starting with the development of the study, the authors trouble the researcher's positionality, highlighting tensions between institutional knowledge of “prevention” and other locations where knowledge about patients' health needs materialises. The authors outline how IE's theoretically and methodologically integrated toolkit became a framework for “taking sides” with patients. They describe how the researcher used IE to take a standpoint and map institutional relations from that standpoint. They argue that IE enabled an innovative analysis but also reflect on the challenges of conducting an IE – the conceptual unpicking and (re)thinking, and demarcating boundaries of investigation within an expansive dataset.

Originality/value

This paper illustrates IE's relevance for organisational ethnographers wishing to find a theoretically robust approach to taking sides, and suggests ways in which the IE approach might contribute to improving services, particularly healthcare. It provides an illustration of how taking a patient standpoint was accomplished in practice, and reflects on the challenges involved.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 10 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

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Article
Publication date: 10 May 2018

Adriana Angela Suarez Delucchi

The purpose of this paper is to problematise the idea of “at-home ethnography” and to expand knowledge about insider/outsider distinctions by using insights from…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to problematise the idea of “at-home ethnography” and to expand knowledge about insider/outsider distinctions by using insights from institutional ethnography (IE). It also examines the strengths and challenges of “returning” researchers recognising their unique position in overcoming these binaries.

Design/methodology/approach

IE is the method the researcher used to explore community-based water management in rural Chile. The researcher is interested in learning from rural drinking water organisations to understand the way in which their knowledge is organised. The data presented derived from field notes of participant observation and the researcher’s diary.

Findings

The notion of “at-home ethnography” fell short when reflecting on the researcher’s positions and experiences in the field. This is especially true when researchers return to their countries to carry out fieldwork. The negotiation of boundaries, codes and feelings requires the researcher to appreciate the complex relationships surrounding ethnographic work, in order to explore how community-based water management is done in the local setting, without forgetting where the setting is embedded.

Originality/value

Unique insights are offered into the advantages and tensions of conducting fieldwork “at home” when the researcher has lived “abroad” for an extended time. A critique and contribution to “at-home ethnography” is offered from an IE perspective.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 7 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2018

Markus Gottwald, Frank Sowa and Ronald Staples

The purpose of this paper is to present a specific case of at-home ethnography, or insider research: The German Public Employment Service (BA) commissioned its own…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a specific case of at-home ethnography, or insider research: The German Public Employment Service (BA) commissioned its own research institute (Institute for Employment Research (Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung)) to evaluate the daily implementation of its core management instruments (target management and controlling). The aim of the paper is to explain the challenges faced by the ethnographers and to reflect on them methodologically.

Design/methodology/approach

At-home ethnography/insider research.

Findings

In the paper, it is argued to what extent conducting at-home ethnography, or insider research, is like “Walking the Line” – to paraphrase Johnny Cash. When examining a management instrument that is highly contested on the micropolitical level, the researchers have to navigate their way through different interests with regard to advice and support, and become micropoliticians in their own interest at the same time in order to maintain scientific autonomy. The ethnographers are deeply enmeshed in the micropolitical dynamics of their field, which gives rise to the question of how they can distance themselves in this situation. To this effect, they develop the argument that distancing is not so much about seeing what is familiar in a new light, as is mostly suggested in the literature, than about alienating a familiar research environment in order to avoid a bureaucratically contingent othering. It is shown what constitutes a bureaucratically contingent othering and how it should be met by an othering of the bureaucracy. Conclusions are drawn from this with regard to the advice and support required for the bureaucracy and concerning the methods debate surrounding insider research in general.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the method debate with regard to at-home ethnography, or insider research, and particularly addresses organisational researchers and practitioners facing similar challenges when conducting ethnographic research in their own organisation.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 7 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 12 September 2016

Richard J. White and Patricia Burke Wood

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 36 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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