‘Taking off my glasses in order to see’: exploring practice on a building site using self-reflexive ethnography
Journal article, 2015
There has recently been a growing interest for ethnographic studies in construction, predicated upon the belief that ethnographic research in the construction industry can provide a powerful way of illuminating construction practices in new ways. Focusing on the ethnographic method, it is demonstrated how a self-reflexive ethnography can contribute to a deeper understanding of the variations, contradictions and tensions underlying practices on a building site, thereby serving as a complement to other qualitative approaches. A short four-week ethnographic study illustrates how the subjective ‘I’ of the ethnographer can be used as an active producer of knowledge, by reflecting on how insights from an individual’s role, both as an observer and as a worker, can account for the complex interplay between socialities and materialities on a building site. The results also contribute to the discussion regarding the length of ethnographic studies, by showing how valuable insights can be drawn from shorter ‘ethnographic episodes’, studied through a self-reflexive lens.