chapter  6
17 Pages

Using Ethnographic Methods in a Study of Students’ Secondary School and Post-school Careers

WithGwen Wallace, Jean Rudduck and Julia Flutter with Susan Harris

Ethnography is usually seen as either a process (a method of working ‘in the field’) or as a finished narrative account of research findings. In this paper we challenge such a dichotomy, arguing that methodological issues in ethnographic research are not simply a discussion of the merits of techniques but an inextricable part of the final narrative account. This was particularly so in our longitudinal study where methodological and theoretical issues interconnected with the way the relationships between the members of a (changing) research team, school staff and students developed over time in the context of events. In this chapter we recount something of the story of our research project. The story is inevitably partial. Our aim is to demonstrate the value of ethnographic methods for educational research; to answer Silverman’s (1985) question, ‘What is going on here?’