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Autoethnography

    ==In social research== Autoethnography is related to ethnography which is a recognized qualitative research method where a researcher uses participant observation and interviews in order to gain a deeper understanding of a group's culture and can also help us to understand and/or theorize modes of human behavior within a group and across different groups Often but not always the researcher is a member of the group in question rather than the traditional outsider ethnographer As a variation of conventional ethnography (which has its roots in anthropology) autoethnography is now becoming more widely used (though controversial) in other disciplinary contexts including performance studies the sociology of new media novels journalism and communication
    In an autoethnography the researcher turns the ethnographic lens on him/herself Rather than looking to other groups one looks deeply at one's self In different disciplines (particularly communication studies and performance studies) the term autoethnography itself is contested and is sometimes used interchangeably with or referred to as personal narrative or autobiography An autoethography is a reflexive account of one's own experiences situated in culture In other words in addition to describing and looking critically at one's own experience an autoethnography is also a cultural accounting For example Stacy Holman Jones wrote an article entitled "(M)othering loss: Telling adoption stories telling performativity"(Text and Performance Quarterly 2005 25, 113-35) where she talks about her own experiences with infertility and adoption as they are linked to cultural attitudes about transnational adoption adoption infertility and how we talk about these issues at different moments in time She does so in order to understand her own story but also to change some of the perceptions around these issues In generating an autoethnographic work most researchers attempt to fully realize the ideal of reflexivity which is the idea that the researcher needs to be aware of his or her role as a researcher In embracing personal thoughts feelings stories and observations as a way of understanding the social context they are studying these researchers are also shedding light on their total interaction with that setting by making their every emotion and thought visible to the reader This is much the opposite of hypothesis-driven or positivist research but is not very far from traditional ethnography as practiced by anthropologists and sociologists Autoethnographic methods include journaling looking at archival records - whether institutional or personal interviewing one's own self and using writing to generate a self-cultural understandings Reporting an autoethnography might take the form of a traditional journal article or scholarly book performed on the stage or be seen in popular press
    The benefits of autoethnography are the ways in which research of such a personal nature might give us insight into problems often overlooked in culture--issues such as the nature of identity race sexuality child abuse eating disorders life in academia and the like In addition to helping the researcher make sense of his or her individual experience autoethnographies are political in nature as they engage their readers in important political issues and often ask us to consider things or do things differently
    A special issue issue of the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (Vol 35 No 4, August 2006) contains several articles on the diverse definitions and uses of autoethnography An autoethnography can be analytical (see Leon Anderson) written in the style of a novel (see Carolyn Ellis's methodological novel The Ethnographer's I) performative (see the work of Norman K. Denzin and the anthology The Ends of Performance) and many things in between Symbolic interactionists are particularly interested in this increasingly popular method and examples of autoethnography can be found in the Journal of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interactionism as well as in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography and the Journal of Humanistic Ethnography It is not considered "mainstream" as a method by most positivist or traditional ethnographers

    In film

    An 'autoethnography' is also a variant of the standard documentary film It differs in that its subject is the filmmaker himself or herself An autoethnography typically relates the life experiences and thoughts views and beliefs of the filmmaker and as such it is often considered to be rife with bias and image manipulation Unlike other documentaries autoethnographies do not usually make a claim of objectivity An important text on autoethnography in filmmaking is Catherine Russell's Experimental : The Work of Film in the Age of Video (Duke UP, 1999)