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Researcher safety? Ethnography in the Interdisciplinary World of Audit Cultures

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JournalCultural Studies: Critical Methodologies
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Sep 2017
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Anthropologists intermittently reflect on the danger and risk that ethnography can involve. Here, we advance this question in a contemporary research environment where the regulatory logics of occupational safety and health (OSH) encroach increasingly on anthropological practice through institutional research governance. We draw on our research into workplace OSH in the construction, healthcare, and logistics sectors – a research field dominated by behavioural theories that support the preventative logics of OSH regulation. Taking an autoethnographic approach, we explore how researching in potentially dangerous environments requires ethnographers to learn how to be safe through others’ situated safety logics and through those of researcher safety. It is, we argue, through these engagements with the improvisory ways that workers generally, and researchers specifically, engage with safety, that another set of inconsistencies between OSH preventative logics and our anthropological understanding of how ethnographic knowing emerges become visible.

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