12 June 2013

Article: "What are data? Ethnographic experiences with young offenders"

Article by Tea Torbenfeldt Bengtsson, Assistant Professor at Department of Sociology, in Qualitative Research, 5 June, 2013.

Pre-established ideals of ethnographic data
Drawing on a recent field study in a secure care institution for young offenders, this article analyses how an apparent failure to obtain data was based on pre-established ideals of what ethnographic data are.

The construction of data
Despite much recent constructionist ethnographic literature explicitly dealing with the role of the researcher in data collection, little focus is given to how data are constructed in the research process. The author thus started her study with ideals of obtaining rich data in the form of extensive written documentation.

Situational and relational data
Shifting her focus to field interaction and relational experiences rather than the actual written documentation created an understanding of data as situational and relationally constructed. While this new understanding of what data are made possible analyses uncovering why certain meaning structures appear, it also revealed non-verbal experiences as valuable data.

Read the entire article at sagepub.com (requires access).