Denials, Obstructions, and Silences: Lessons from Repertoires of Field Resistance (and Embrace)
What do factory craftsmen, clinical anatomists, and business school professors have in common? Not too much, you might think, but think again. All these individuals share the ability to exhibit resistance when faced with a field inquiry into their working lives. And how can we not understand them? Few people really want to be studied-let alone by a field researcher like myself, claiming to follow an inductive research approach that might lead me to become intrigued by aspects of their lives that they do not get (ex-ante) to pick or might not want (ex-post) to discuss. Field resistance under such circumstances is understandable given that many scholars seek to “infiltrate” rather than access a field (Douglas, 1976, p. 167). By field resistance, I mean any reaction that field participants collectively deploy to resist a research inquiry into their social worlds. My main argument is that we can also learn a lot from capturing, analyzing, and qualifying field resistance.