Standpoint: Using Bourdieu to Understand IE and the Researcher's Relation with Knowledge Generation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this chapter I highlight the need to turn the IE lens of enquiry onto IE itself and consequently the importance for institutional; ethnographers to attend to their standpoint in taking up and activating their understanding IE. Many, including Wise and Stanley (1990) and Walby (2007), celebrate Smith’s sociology but raise important ontological and epistemological questions about IE’s own recursive power. While IE has developed from a critique of wider sociological inquiry it is troubled by the institutional ethnographer’s own standpont when using IE uncritically, without reflexivity of their standpoint in relation with IE and knowledge generation. IE stands in relation between the researcher and the everyday of the research participants in a local research context that is particular and plural, situated and dynamic.

The chapter highlights a particular critique by Dorothy Smith of Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus as a ‘blobontology’, yet considers the theoretical similartities between Smith and Bourdieu. I argue that institutional ethnographers and IE itself are not be immune from the kinds of unravelling that Smith undertakes of other approaches to sociological inquiry. Researcher standpoint, reflexivity and their relation to knowledge generation are therefore critical aspects of approach without which there is potential to ‘other’ and develop morally questionable representations of people that diminishes the actuality of their subjective experience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives On and From Institutional Ethnography
EditorsJames Reid, Lisa Russell
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781787146525
ISBN (Print)9781787146532
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameStudies in Qualitative Methodology
ISSN (Print)1042-3192


Dive into the research topics of 'Standpoint: Using Bourdieu to Understand IE and the Researcher's Relation with Knowledge Generation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this