chapter  10
14 Pages

Girls on film: video diaries as ‘autoethnographies’


The above describes an extract taken from a video diary made by Rose. Rose’s admission to camera (and within a video diary which she believes may well end up being broadcast on national television) that she has to whisper, because what she wants to say is very personal, brings up some of the issues addressed by this chapter. Centrally, we want to focus upon some of the questions which arise both in relation to treating the video diary as ‘research data’, and in terms of notions about ‘empowering’ the research subject to ‘tell her own story’ so to speak. What do we (or more precisely what do we – as social researchers interested in questions of subjectivity) get from the video diary, if not some kind of ‘innocent’, more ‘authentic’, or ‘uncontaminated’ (by the research process) representation of self? How do we interpret such representations, and what do such data give us that a more traditional research method does not? This chapter argues that when treated in ways which resist treating this material as ‘innocent’, ‘transparent’ or as closed to re/interpretation, the video diary can provide a particularly rich site for the investigation of situated subjectivity; being as lived within a complex network of social relations. In particular, we are drawing, in making our case, upon some of the work done by Catherine Russell (1999) on experimental ethnography and in particular, her work on autoethnography.