is a form of qualitative research
in which an author uses self-reflection
and writing to explore anecdotal and personal experience and connect this autobiographical story to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings. Autoethnography is a self-reflective form of writing used across various disciplines such as communication studies
, performance studies
, education, English literature
, social work
, religious studies
and educational administration
, arts education
, and physiotherapy
According to Maréchal (2010), "autoethnography is a form or method of research that involves self-observation and reflexive investigation in the context of ethnographic field work and writing" (p. 43). A well-known autoethnographer, Carolyn Ellis
(2004) defines it as "research, writing, story, and method that connect the autobiographical and personal to the cultural, social, and political" (p. xix). However, it is not easy to reach a consensus on the term's definition. For instance, in the 1970s, autoethnography was more narrowly defined as "insider ethnography," referring to studies of the (culture of) a group of which the researcher is a member (Hayano, 1979). Nowadays, however, as Ellingson and Ellis
(2008) point out, "the meanings and applications of autoethnography have evolved in a manner that makes precise definition difficult" (p. 449).
According to Adams, Jones, and Ellis in Autoethnography: Understanding Qualitative Research
, "Autoethnography is a research method that: Uses a researcher's personal experience to describe and critique cultural beliefs, practices, and experiences. Acknowledges and values a researcher's relationships with others. . . . Shows 'people in the process of figuring out what to do, how to live, and the meaning of their struggles'" (Adams, 2015). "Social life is messy, uncertain, and emotional. If our desire to research social life, then we must embrace a research method that, to the best of its/our ability, acknowledges and accommodates mess and chaos, uncertainty and emotion" (Adams, 2015). Read more...