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Presentation: Autoethnographer Communities of Practice Jeffrey Keefer

Began by explaining What is autoethnography?: comes out of cultural studies. Posits...

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Gill Clough
4 May 2010

Began by explaining What is autoethnography?: comes out of cultural studies. Posits ‘self’ as focus of study rather than ‘other’. The ‘I’ writing this to reach out to ‘you’ the reader to find something in common.

RQ – What are people learning by doing this? What are they doing other than simply writing about their own lives.

Used Narrative inquiry as a research approach

Method: interviews. Talk to individuals.

Methodology: Sent out a request for participants (autoethnographers like to tell own story so hunch that wouldn’t have trouble was true). Gave access to his own blog to establish credibility.

Wanted 2 people, got 3 people from an autoethnographic research listserv and qualitative research list

Documented all this on his blog. When calling for participants, sent a link to his blog and feels that this helped. His participants could see that they shared similarities with him.

2 questions – semi-structured interview. What support or encouragement did you receive, and what sort of community (CoP) did you belong to. Didn’t use term CoP so as not to lead his participants.

3 international people. All female. Overwhelmingly autoethnographic accounts are written by women although he wasn’t just looking for women.

Two (Jennifer and Nellie) had done doctoral theses with a large autoethnographic element. One (Carol) had done a masters thesis that was 100% autoethnographic.

Lengthy interview, conducted online and transcribed.

Unedited chunks of what they said with his unedited commentary providing some insights and interpretation. Focus is to be true to the  story that the person is saying.


Jennifer – worked alone. Had taboo condition which was what gave her access to the people she wanted to talk about.

Nellie – just liked to talk about autoethnography.  Supervisor wanted her to return to theory, but she just liked to do this.

Carol – had active support from a community in conducting autoethnography

1st 2 people did not have supportive departments.

Feels that autoethnographic communities could have implications for CoP. As result of this research thinks there is something else to explore. Traditional CoP theories. I'm not so sure about this as it seems to me that Nellie's CoP was actually her research department and the community that she accessed for her autoethnographic account melted away when the research was completed.

Jennifer's community developed through their shared interest so she could write her autoehtnographic account and subsided once her dissertation was done.

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