My Overview – Autoethnography

When Chris first mentioned ‘autoethnography’ I was immediately taken back to subjects like SOC326 and BCM240 where I had first learnt about the concept and attempted to put it into practice.  The reading for this week was Ellis, Adams & Bochner’s 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview, and it was quite the… overview.

Throughout university the idea of keeping one’s own thoughts separate from their work has been the norm.  Research the topic, present the facts.  That’s been the formula for academic study.  For areas like physics and engineering it works.  They’re number heavy and there is a right and a wrong, with little room for the interpretation and feeling of the writer.  But the social sciences are different, they’re nuanced, dealing with humanity and its many facets.  It’s qualitative rather than quantitative, and that’s why autoethnography has really flourished in this field.

As the name suggests, autoethnography is the attempt to study culture through the author’s personal experiences.  Not only does this lead to a more personal experience, but it engages readers as it offers a little extra to the usually black and white nature of other forms of research.  It places great emphasis on and “accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research, rather than hiding from these matters or assuming they don’t exist” (Ellis et al, 2011).

I had never really interacted with Asian cultures much until after high school, so it’s great to be able to experience, investigate and attempt to understand them through this subject.  I want my research to be evocative, to have feeling for me and stir something in whoever reads it, and that’s why I feel like autoethnography is the soundest method for this exploration.

Team at The Real McCoy

As for the final project/ digital artefact for this subjects I think I will be looking at the land of the rising sun.  While probably the most obvious choice considering we have looked at Gojira (1954) and Akira (1988), but it is the culture with which I have always been most intrigued.  The area of Japanese culture that I’ll be looking at is a kind of different.  As a sort of continuation of work I had done in SOC326 I want to look at the way that Japan became infatuated with and the subsequent pastiche remixing of all things Americana in the post-war period.



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


  1. The idea of keeping your thoughts separate from what you’re working on is something I can relate to massively. Throughout any written work I’m always trying to remain as a neutral voice rather than an active voice in the work, as it always felt a bit wrong to bring yourself into something academic. Its good to see that auto-ethnography changes makes your own voice an actual part of the research process.


  2. You have a great understanding of the process of autoethnography and can be evident that you have studied it in the past. I agree with your ideas that their should be a connection between the researcher and the reader, and glad that you understand that’s what Ellis et al were getting across in the reading.


  3. I appreciate your understanding and grasp of Autoethnography. And it is true, that we have been taught how to go about the ‘facts and ‘truth’ in a straight forward manner. As described by Ellis, I love how this method of research allows ourselves to develop a voice in the process, one that we haven’t traditionally had in our work. I look forward in following your project!



  4. I completely agree with your comments about how throughout University and even High School, we have been taught to move away from writing with a personal opinion and to only use traditional writing methods. I’m really interested in your proposed project and I look forward to seeing you experiment with autoethnographic research.


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