Ellis explains autoethnography as a research methodology combining autobiography and ethnography as a way to research culture based on personal experience. Having done research subjects in the past I have been exposed to examples of this type of research before, though I never really thought too much about it and the importance it has to the history and future of research as a new way of examining a culture from a participant perspective instead of an outsider looking in approach.
My understanding of autoethnography was greatly helped by Ellis’ explanation of autoethnography “…as an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)” (Ellis et al, 2011). This breakdown of the actual word helped me understand it better and to see it in front of me instead of attempting to imagine what it might look like.
After reading Autoethnography: An Overview, it became clear to me that autoethnographic methods have been evident in a lot of my schooling, often being taught elements of this methodology, though not knowing it existed as ‘autoethnography’. This idea of personal experience is evident in my everyday life and I have previously drawn on parts of this for research, however when I think about undertaking some more serious research I can see that I need to be able to be more analytical of my own experiences in order to truly try to understand something more closely.
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095