Pure Autoethnographic Research or Genuine Personal Narrative

Pure Autoethnographic Research or Genuine Personal Narrative


The journey I have taken through the world of media use in the Democratic Republic of North Korea has opened my eyes to a cultural group who live in a world far removed from mine. I was well aware that a cultural divide existed and that it was not unique to these two cultures and societies. Many Asian cultures reflect vastly different media trends, products and usage but North Korea really rocked my perceptions. However, what concerns this researcher is the very nature of the autoethnographic research I am carrying out. Leon Anderson identifies five key features of analytic autoethnographic research; complete member research status, analytic reflexivity, narrative visibility, dialogue with others beyond the researcher and a commitment to theoretical analysis (Anderson, L. 2006).


In the research I have undertaken for my blog posts on North Korea I have the reflectivity and visible narrative. It is the complete member research status that worries me because I am not a member of the North Korean culture, I have not visited the country and experienced the culture and I have not experienced an expatriate relationship with any North Koreans in Australia. My research has largely been media driven using the internet and news media to source the comparisons I make and the reflections and comparisons this information leads me to. This has led to an absence of dialogue with others beyond the researcher, another of the key features Anderson. Does the lack of these two components of an autoethnographic research project places the authenticity of the research and the associated cultural reflections and comparisons in some jeopardy?


Reading further into Anderson and other writers I feel the narrative I have constructed around the use of media in North Korea and the ongoing reflective nature of my thinking around the cultural and political differences clearly makes a strong case for three out of the five key features identified above. Regardless of the pure nature of the autoethnographic research work I have undertaken the information I have found and the cultural insights these have provided have definitely had an emotion and analytical effect on my thinking about the cultural issues associated with North Korea. It has produced a clarity of thinking which has sharpened my person narrative.


Anderson, L. Analytic Autoethnography Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 2006 35: 373

DOI: 10.1177/0891241605280449 http://jce.sagepub.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/content/35/4/373.full.pdf+html


  1. Hi, I understand your dilemma, which you you neatly summed up in this post, however I don’t think this necessarily detracts from your autoethnographic research. In fact it speaks volumes about the subject matter you are investigating: the draconian regime of North Korea that shields its inhabitants from the rest of the world.

    Also you could use this divide as the basis for a digital artefact that reflects your disconnectedness and highlights the absence of dialogue. You mentioned that North Koreans live in a world apart from yours. I think the idea of connectivity is so pervasive in this digital age, the next generation has been coined the i-generation etc, yet North Koreans don’t have that, despite have the infrastructure to be connected digitally.


  2. Great post! In your blog post you mentioned that your overall experience may be affected because you are not from North Korea and have never been there, as you could not relate as well as others. I believe it’s had the completely opposite effect to what you think. By not knowing anything about a culture you have been able to write about your experience from the start making it a pure experience. This is something not many people can do, and i wish i could have had started over fresh for my project. I think you’ve done a great job with your blogs and can’t wait to see your project.


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