Autoethnography as 'Valid' Methodology? A Case Study of Disrupted Identity Narratives

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Autoethnography has been deemed a contentious and ‘self-indulgent’ methodological approach within some quarters of the social sciences. This paper considers the use of autoethnography in the sociological study of disrupted identity occasioned by sporting injury. In particular, it examines the role of narrative activity in the construction of the injured and rehabilitated sporting body and the successful reconstruction of positive athletic identity. Based on a 2-year collaborative autoethnographic study by two middle/long-distance runners, the paper portrays the key narratives, both spoken and written, co-produced during the process of injury and recovery. This narrative activity facilitated sense-making, both phenomenologically and sociologically, of runners' injured bodies, and helped counteract the threat of identity disruption caused by long-term, serious injury. Via narrative exchanges as ‘co-tellers’, a high degree of intersubjectivity was achieved, which was central in pursuing our return to full running fitness and athletic identity. The paper argues for the use of autoethnograhic (both analytic and evocative) approaches alongside the array of more 'traditional' qualitative methods and representational forms used within the social sciences, and highlights their potential for providing unique insights into the phenomenology of human experience.


Keywords: Autoethnography - Analytic, Disrupted Identity, Narratives, Injury
Stream: Research Methodologies, Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , Autoethnography as ‘Valid’ Methodology? A Study of Disrupted Identity Narratives


Prof. Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson

Lecturer in Qualitative Research, Qualitative Research Unit
School of Sport & Health Sciences, University of Exeter

Exeter, Devon, UK

Dr Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson is based in the Qualitative Research Unit, in the School of Sport & Health Sciences at the University of Exeter. Her current research interests cohere around the sociology and phenomenology of the sporting body, including the injured body; narratives of intimate partner violence; occupational and 'serious leisure' identities, and identity work among various groups, including injured athletes, contract researchers, research administrators and doctoral students.

Ref: I08P0823