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Field Notes

Vol 7 No 2: September issue

Cubical ethnography: Another kind of fieldwork

March 26, 2020
September 30, 2020


Studying the contemporary clinic necessitates rethinking what it means to both enter and access ‘the field’. In these Field Notes, I reflect on the beginnings of fieldwork and the processes of crafting research protocols which can stand up to formal ethics reviews. Rather than treating the process as a barrier to ‘real’ ethnographic research, I suggest that the mundane institutional realities of inserting oneself into a bureaucratic atmosphere form a particular—but no less valid—kind of ethnographic experience. I call this experience ‘cubicle ethnography’, after how the structures of the office—keys, badges, desktop computers—reflected negotiations of access and my own legitimacy as a visiting ethnographer.