2004
Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1385-1535
  • E-ISSN: 1875-7324

Abstract

Abstract

This essay is the second part of my contribution to an ongoing discussion in KWALON on evidence and truth in ethnography. I stress that ethnography is inferential and involves interpretation work, and in this part specifically I shift the attention from the problems of truth the field to those it. Using ethnographic material from Alice Goffman and insights from studies of the uniformed services, I focus on the discrepancies that result from secrecy and truth work. Relative, coherent and holistic truths thus emerge in the field. These pose special challenges for writing ethnography; deploying experience requires rhetorical strategies. The emergent character of truth also entails scrutinizing the ‘facts of fieldwork’ and steering clear of the subjectivist and objectivist fallacies of empiricist functionalism. I end the essay with three methodological tips, inviting further research into how secrecy and truth work relate to domination and resistance.

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2022-07-04
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