You can’t report what you don’t know: Methodological considerations of an ethnographer navigating organizational secrecy
Lobbedez, Elise (2021), You can’t report what you don’t know: Methodological considerations of an ethnographer navigating organizational secrecy, 8th Ethnography Workshop Edition, 2021, online, France
TypeCommunication / Conférence
Conference title8th Ethnography Workshop Edition
MetadataShow full item record
Dauphine Recherches en Management [DRM]
Abstract (EN)This note reflects on the methodological challenges I faced as an ethnographer navigating organizational secrecy, the conscious suppression of knowledge through practices related to keeping oneself or keeping others ignorant, during my dissertation fieldwork on the French yellow vest movement. In this essay, I discuss the oscillation I experienced during my fieldwork between becoming a knowledgeable agent and accepting to remain in the dark. More specifically, I show that being an ethnographer in contexts of organizational secrecies often led to uncomfortable research positions which involved accepting uncertainty and acting in spite of the lack of knowledge, as well as evaluating whether to deliberately ignore and avoid knowledge. Through this paper, I wish to contribute to the ongoing conversations in the field of ignorance studies by showing the different nuances between knowing and not-knowing and by addressing potential methodological implications of studying how actors work to keep things invisible.
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