The ethnography sessions were in general well attended, between 14 and 40 with an average of 26, and the quality of submissions and presentations were generally very good.
The organisation of the conference was superb with the facilities adding significantly to the production of meaningful encounters between researchers with a common methodology from different European countries exploring different substantive research interests.
There were ten sessions at this years conference. Each session had a different focus as in previous years, in which we grouped together submissions that appeared to share common thematic, methodological or other interests. A system of key-words in addition to the abstract helped this process considerably. There were no shared sessions with other networks this year. We have had these in the past and hope to have them in the future. There were two people who did not show up for their presentation.
The presentation of papers from related research traditions (specifically those of narrative research and life-history research) allowed for interesting methodological discussions and comparison regarding accepted points and assumptions of ethnography and that separate it from other approaches. They covered the idea that in order to develop theories about human life, an ethnographer must study human activities and the way people interpret their realities in situ and should in some way try to identify and then synthesise the basic conditions of the field, the perspectives of the participants, the latent meanings of the context and the researher’s own views for the identification, grounding, generation and expansion of an idea and its development into a theory.
Life history research and narrative research differ from ethnography in that they don't adhere to the principle of first hand participation and accounting, however, both approaches use the researcher as the main research tool and therefore have this similarlity with a full ethnography. We will continue to include related traditions such as these in our network.
Another issue explored at this years conference was the notion of representation in ethnography which is sometimes viewed as a bricolage, as a form of ad hoc assemblage of miscellaneous materials and signifying structures developed from a collection of ready made items. Using purposively designed ethnographies presented in the sessions as examples we were able to challenge this common understanding and contrast it to more critically and/or theoretically guided approaches. The characteristics of ethnographic design and the diffetrent roles theories (and different types of theory to boot) play in design processes were also explored.