Achieving Standpoint: Using 'I Poem' Narratives as a Reflective Tool Within an Institutional Ethnography of 'Care' in a Primary School in the North of England

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This presentation explores researcher reflexivity developed during an institutional ethnography (IE) (Smith 2005) of a primary school in the north of England. It illustrates use of a narrative method, ‘The Listening Guide’ (Mauthner and Doucet 2008), in particular the researcher’s production of an ‘I’ poem after being interviewed by research participants. This promotes an ethical approach to researcher reflexivity, enabling an explicit analysis of the researcher’s subjectivities and a deeper understanding of privilege and power on the part of the researcher. The approach works to achieve standpoint and thus negate any researcher authority over the textual representations of the research participants and objectification of them.

Consideration is given to the tensions between the sociological basis of IE and how this is troubled by the psychological foundation of The Listening Guide. The point of reflection in institutional ethnography is not to learn about the researcher per se, but to learn about the researcher’s location in the ‘relations of ruling’ (Smith 2005). There are particular tensions for institutional ethnographers in seeking to avoid objectification of participants through both ‘institutional capture’ and ‘privileged irresponsibility’, that is; the imposition of researcher subjectivities in listening for and asking about texts. A significant concern in this research context is the researcher’s place and privilege in the education hierarchy. I will argue that it is precisely because of the troubling nature of the Listening Guide and ‘I’ poems that they can be utilised by institutional ethnographers in revealing and analysing the co-ordination of social relations.
Period10 Jun 2015
Event title3rd International Conference of the International Childhood and Youth Research Network
Event typeConference
Conference number3
LocationNicosia, Cyprus
Degree of RecognitionInternational