14 SES 05 A, Multidisciplinary Approaches to Learning in and from Urban Spaces: Participatory Research and Innovative Practices - Part 2
As pointed out by Hammersley and Atkinson (2007) the field observer can experience being perceived as a spy and feeling undeniably unwelcome, especially in the beginning of observation studies. In the fall of 2014 we carried out ethnographic fieldwork (Hastrup 2010, Spradley 1980) in the city of Horsens in Denmark in relation to our research on unstructured socialization among urban youth in urban public spaces. Despite our efforts to explain the young people about our field work and our role as non-SSP (a special Social services, School and Police unit) and non-police, we repeatedly experienced the youngsters questioning our presence. The confusion and skepticism that we experienced emphasized the importance of reflecting our position as researchers (Bourdieu 1999, Goodson & Adair 2007) among urban youth and questioned whether we communicated our objectives thoroughly. Key words in this process proved to be time and conversation - openness and demystification and a repeated negotiation of consent from our informants in the urban sites. In this light, one can’t reduce the position as a field researcher to the ability to observe - because the process establishes (and depend on) relations based on mutual sympathy and understanding - which raises a number of ethical dilemmas, such as: Who will benefit from the research? In what ways does young people benefit from the relations with the field observers? Should it be considered a form of neglect, when the researchers, after completing their data collection, leave the environment and the young people, who shared experiences, trust and openness?
- Atkinson, P. & Hammersley, M. (2007) Ethnography - Principles in Practice. Taylor & Francis Ltd. - Bourdieu, P. (1999) ”Understanding”. In: Bourdieu, P. et al. (1999) The Weight of the World. Social Suffering in Contemporary Society. Polity Press - Goodson, I. & Adair, N. (2007) ”Life History Interviews: Voice, Research Process and tales From the Field”. In: Petersen, P.M. et al. (red.) (2007) Livshistorieforskning og kvalitative interview. Forlaget PUC - Hastrup, K. (2010): ”Feltarbejde”. I: Brinkmann & Tanggaard (red.): Kvalitative metoder. Hans Reitzels Forlag - Spradley, J. P. (1980) Participant Observation. Wadsworth. Thomson learning
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