WP299 Walking interviews, visual diagramming and participatory ethnography
Although generally accepted that there can be no ethnographic research without collaboration, there is a growing interest in a more explicit and deliberate collaborative ethnographic research (Lassiter 2005; Campbell & Lassiter 2015). Building on my own experience of Freirean participatory and critical pedagogy and participatory classroom research (Bryers et al 2013; Cooke et al, 2019), I take an explicitly participatory approach to my project: an investigation of the day-to-day language practices in and around the east London borough of Tower Hamlets.
In education settings, participatory approaches make central the reciprocal learning that takes place in classrooms and problematise the teacher-student hierarchy via dialogue and transformative action (Freire 1970). In similar ways, in a research setting, participatory ethnography disrupts the roles of ‘researcher’ and ‘researched’ to move toward a new role of ‘co-researcher’, where knowledge and ideas are more explicitly co-constructed.
In this project, participants take on active co-researcher roles, exploring and reflecting on their own sociolinguistic experiences. I reflect on this approach towards research by describing and discussing the two main methods of data collection: walking interviews, where participants decide their own research sites, lead the interviews and gather other participants along the way; and ‘visual diagramming’ where participants carry out their own sociolinguistic observations and represent their ideas in a visual format.