My understanding of “autoethnography”

When I started reading Ellis (et al. 2011)’s Autoethnography: An Overview, I found it quite complicated to understand but as I continued reading, it was very interesting and convincing as the order topic sentence- explain- example was used to provide a deeper understanding of the reading. Every part of the reading is well- organised with the number and label. The authors wrote it with supportive evidence and good explanation. It was divided into 5 parts: history of autoethnography, how to do it, how to write it, why it has been criticised.

Autoethnography is a method that helps to gain a better understanding of others:

‘Doing ethnography means studying a culture’s relational pratices, common values and beliefs, and shared experiences for the purpose of helping insiders and outsiders better understand the culture’ (Ellis et al. 2011)

Doing autoethnography is selectively writing about a crucial moment that have major impact on your life (called epiphanies) belonging to a particular cultural individual or reflecting a part of a culture (Ellis et al., 2011). When I was little, I used to write diary everyday to noted down my own emotions. This January, when I came home, I found it by chance and read again what I have written when I was small. It is really interesting as I can see ‘me’ reflecting through all the notes. It is funny not only in the way I wrote and how I grew my emotions along the events during that time but it is also a diary of my own adventure. So it becomes very unique as all the feelings and the ways I made sense of the world belongs to me myself.


One thing I agree about the reading is that it explained why autoethnography is widely used and sometimes believed but consider unprofessional.  Autoethnography is a method to deeply analyse a reading/ writing in relations to the author’s values (including background and culture). It is widely used as it connects people emotionally, supports different ideas without evidence. However, it weakness makes it target of criticism as it is merely based on biased view of life, too narrow and lack of data. When writing a report or a political analysis, what I normally need is the most supportive and relevant data which autoethnography does not have. So, in my point of view, doing/ writing autoethnography is a good approach but only in case of sharing your stories and being helpful for others.

In conclusion, Ellis (et al.2011)’s Autoethnography: An Overview is a quite analytical reading as it tells about the story and draws on how to write, how to autoethnography efficiently and why it is criticised. It is sure to be a choice for sharing your own stories to understand others’ views better.


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


  1. Your understanding of ethnography is clear, and I appreciate the fact you have used your own diary example. But I was under the impression that the use of writing about a crucial moment, or epiphany was something that an autobiographer did, not an ethnographer?


    1. I do agree that autobiographer is mostly write about epiphanies but I think that in order to do ethnography, it is a need to know about epiphanies of the people that you are writing about. So, you can provide a clear and informative reason to understand their values or perspective

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t mean to press post comment yet, sorry. Ethnographers according to Ellis must ‘consider ways others may experience similar epiphanies; they must use personal experience to illustrate facets of cultural experiences…’. This being said, I feel like your diary is a good relevant point, but it would be just a tool in the understanding of others epiphanies not just your own 🙂


    1. In my own opinions, I think we have changed a lot comparing to while we were little. So, when looking back at my diary, and more specificly, after learning so much about cultural differences, I stand in another position to analyse my own experience. I think it is ethnography as it is another side/ view of cultural differences. It is me but not ‘me’ nowadays


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