Autoethnography as 'Valid' Methodology? A Case Study of Disrupted Identity Narratives
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
Prof. Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson
Lecturer in Qualitative Research, Qualitative Research Unit