Working Backwards: A Methodological Autobiography

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This essay gives an account of two ethnographic research projects in which the author has been engaged over the years, with a focus on issues of interpretation. Through tangible descriptions of the unfolding of these research projects – each study in itself and the interconnections between them – the processes by which certain issues and modes of understanding emerge as worthy of attention are addressed. Particular attention is drawn to the quality of wandering that characterizes ethnographic research – wandering that is sometimes purposeful, at other times aimless; sometimes smooth, at other times jerky. Ethnographic research – like life itself – unfolds, quite often without preplanning; even if preplanned, there are always unintended consequences. Making sense of this unfolding most often takes place after the fact. In this regard, what can be called the “methodological autobiography” that lies at the heart of this essay, like the act of research, shares this same characteristic of working backwards and hence, in itself, serves to demonstrate the act and art of interpretation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Handbook of Interpretation in Educational Research
EditorsPaul Smeyers, David Bridges, Nicholas C. Burbules, Morwenna Griffiths
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)978-94-017-9282-0
StatePublished - 26 Nov 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Working Backwards: A Methodological Autobiography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this