Autoethnography: What’s it all about?

When I first came across the term “autoethnography” I had initially dismissed it as another tedious, research-related term which I would struggle to comprehend and eventually get frustrated by. However, mid-way through reading “Autoethnography: An Overview” (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011), I had the realisation that the term referred to the method of using personal experiences as a means to subjectively comprehend cultural experiences (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011, pg.1), with subjectively being the key word. Because, as the article points out, “autoethnography is one of the approaches that acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research” (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011, pg.4).


My IRL reaction to the term “autoethnography”

When I started to think about this form of research, it occurred to me that I have been an autoethnographer since I started university, although for most of the time unknowingly. Through my blog, I have been using personal experiences to gain an understanding of cultural experience. With a huge interest in film, I realized that film-makers too (especially documentarians) are autoethnographers. They reshape their own personal  and cultural experiences and use it to create a narrative which goes on to share a film-maker’s experience. 

With this in mind, I am now beginning to think about how I will use auto ethnography to gain a further understanding on Asian horror films, particularly ‘J-Horror’. As someone who is a massive fan of the 1998 classic “Ringu”, I am incredibly excited to use J-Horror as the basis for my autoethnographic research. In the coming weeks, I will hopefully zone in on the specifics of the research process and through what medium I will present it.


Until then…


Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol.12, no.1, <>


  1. Hey Max, I liked this post about autoethnography for a few reasons.
    You has the same reaction as me when you first came across the word. The post short and a very easy read and I like your gifs.
    I’m definitely interested to see how your project unfolds as J-horror films are something I appreciate as well.
    Cheers Max


  2. I like how you made reference to the fact that you have been engaging in autoethnography without even realising and then noted that film makers utilise it too. It broke down exactly what it is, who uses it and how it works.
    It’s great that you have an idea of what you want to do for your final project. I found a link that provides a heap of research papers on Asian horror cinema thought you could use these as an example or to access further information on the topic you’ll be researching.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoy your introduction to autoethnography, when I was first introduced to the methodology; I too found it a very weird and unusual form of research. The examples of autoethnography that you have used are very relatable and understandable, as I hadn’t come to the realisation that our university blogs were our first attempts of autoethnography. Your comparison of autoethnography helps to make sense of it for me, I hadn’t considered that documentarians are a form autoethnographers, but that has been the first example of professional autoethnography that I have considered in practice, and understood. I have found an article that you might find interesting and valuable for your research to come, it looks into representing the self in documentary practice. It could prove useful for your autoethnographic research into J-horror to come. I I really enjoyed your thoughts on autoethnography.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s crazy that once you have learned about autoethnography, you immediately learn that you have undertaken the process in your own way, and can recognise when others are undergoing autoethnography. Understanding the process of autoethnography is not a difficult thing to wrap your head around once you break it down, and it’s clear that you have a great understanding of the process. Nice meme btw.


  5. As a fellow film fan, I appreciate that you also have found your way into this topic through your understanding of cinematic language. It’s true: a filmmaker is responsible for a particular “vision” that whether intentional or not is always an amalgamation of their core beliefs and values. In much the same way an autoethnographer approaches research through the same areas.

    I appreciate that you’ve written about your lack of understanding of the term. I think it’s ironically a core part of the autoethnographic process to feel initially “lost”, so that you can narrow in on your context and beliefs and start exploring and comparing it to others. You always have to start somewhere with this kind of research, and if anything being “lost” encourages you to dip your feet into the topic earlier with greater depth.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really appreciate your breakdown of the term autoethnography. In the beginning I was also worried I would have the same frustrations as you when trying to understand its meaning. I soon found in maintaining a University blog we have all become autoethnographers in a way.
    Your digital artefact idea sounds very interesting. It’s great how you’ve been able to take a passion of yours and apply it to a new project. Looking forward to seeing more!


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