Autoethnography: An Understanding

Autoethnography is one of those words which seem scary and intimidating when you are first exposed to it. But it is not something that we need to be scared of. After reading into it and examining some further readings, I have come to the conclusion that I do understand it more than I thought I would. Ellis (et al. 2011)’s Autoethnography: An Overview is one of those readings that summarises what exactly is autoethnography and how to apply it to our tasks this session.

Autoethnography is the act of consciously taking into account your personal and contextual experiences to create a wider and deeper cultural understanding. It is to use your personal narrative to relate and engage in a text, and analyse it in a way that can create meaning. As Ellis (et. al 2011) explains, it is to ‘systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)’. It is seen as a much more sensible practice as opposed to traditional research methods. That would historically have one remove their feelings and subjectiveness when writing about the culture, which would leave a culture and people that had been explored, exploited and disregarding.

Autoethnography instead is a practice that ‘acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researchers’ influence on research’ (Ellis, et. al 2011) which is way to explore different cultures in a sensitive way. Ethnography can help those outside of a culture and those inside the culture, understand the culture and experiences much better. For example, one who was exploring the culture of skateboarders would engage and immerse themselves in the culture, taking field notes, watching, examining the cultural nuances and signs. As I understand it, if one was to show the end research of an ethnographic research project on skateboarders, there would be a narrative type way of conveying the content. A story with characters who are acknowledged to be real people, and the real experiences being shown in a personal and culturally sensitive way.

Leading towards the final project needed for this subject of Digital Asia, I am still stuck on how I am to be ethnographically involved in researching an asian culture/topic. Would it be engaging in something like Kpop, or anime? This is something that I will have to explore more as the session progresses.


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


  1. Hi. Sorry, didnt mean to be rude but when you give an example about the skateboarders, it is a little complicated to understand at the end of the example. It confused me a bit. I think it will be easier if you can cut down the sentence and give a brief conclusion of what you think from the example. Moreover, it is used as an example of helping insiders and outsiders gain a better understandings of the culture but it doesnt really mention about outsiders, only researchers’ perspective

    Liked by 1 person

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