A visual turn for organizational ethnography: Embodying the subject in video-based research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Manchester Business School
  • University of East Anglia Faculty of Health
  • University of Sheffield

Abstract

For organizational ethnography we argue that traditional philosophies of onto-epistemological realism be supplanted by interpretive and reflexive thinking to provide fresh theoretical assumptions and new methodological proposals for film- and video-based research. The argument is developed in three phases: First, to establish analytical context, we explore the historical evolution of the ethnographic organizational documentary and discuss habitual problems – methodological, philosophical and technical – that filmmakers have faced when claiming qualities of directness and objectivity in their work, that is, through the style of ‘film-truth’. Second, to advance new conceptual logic for video-based organizational research, we supplant the objectivist and realist philosophy underpinning traditional documentary filmmaking with sociologically interpretive and reflexive arguments for undertaking ethnography in organizations, a subjective process which importantly yields greater understanding of affect and embodiment. Finally, to define new methodological opportunities, these interpretive and reflexive arguments are marshalled to underpin a strategy of participatory thinking in video-based organizational ethnography – a ‘withness’ approach facilitating a greater sense of affect and embodiment as well as polyvocal interpretation of visual data; a practice which sees filmmakers, social theorists, participants and viewers alike united in analytical space.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1403-1424
JournalOrganization Studies
Volume39
Issue number10
Early online date22 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018