Doing ethnography and getting involved: reflections from researching immigration, exclusion and resistance
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses engagement in research by drawing reflexively on experiences of ethnographic fieldwork with migrant workers in Europe. It will outline the specificities of engaged ethnography and contrast this approach to ‘detached’ research models as well as to those that confines engagements to theorisation.
Paper long abstract:
This paper discusses issues of engagement in social research in the contentious context of migration. This discussion is done by drawing reflexively on my experience of conducting engaged ethnographic fieldwork with migrant workers in Britain, Italy and Spain on issues of justice, exploitation and engagement. The paper offers an analytical description of the rationale, practices and dilemmas that have characterised my ethnographic engagement, for instance when combining participant observation and participatory action research, becoming involved in transformative initiatives while doing fieldwork or witnessing oppressive institutional practices. This account will outline the specificities of engaged ethnography and set this approach in contrast not only to models of 'detached', 'neutral' and 'objective' research (including those that seem to be tacitly subscribed and promoted in the recent surge of institutional regulatory concerns with 'ethical research') but also to models that conceive theorisation as the ethnographer's only possibility of engagement.
Anthropology and engagement