“Flirting with Boundaries”: A Professor's Narrative Tale Contemplating Research of the Wild Side

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This narrative explores some of the boundaries that ethnographers may encounter as they contemplate the viability of studying their own behavior in risqué social settings. The author examines his personal journal entries written about his participation in the downtown college party scene—the wild side—in Athens, Georgia, for ways that his professional identity, race, gender, age, sexuality, and marital status place him in a precarious professional position. His statuses negate the viability of formally studying college students’ social behavior because his own behavior as a participant-observer would flirt with, rub against, or cross social, administrative, or legal boundaries. The author concludes that ethnographers’ narratives expose human vulnerabilities, but it is these vulnerabilities that give the narratives their richness for explaining the workings of broader society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-465
Number of pages24
JournalQualitative Inquiry
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • African American researcher
  • ethnography
  • narrative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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