Out of the ordinary: Research participants’ experiences of sharing the ‘insignificant’

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Abstract

How do research participants feel about having their ‘ordinary’ lives researched? This article focuses on how research participants manage the sharing of details emerging out of their ordinary lives in the context of research – an activity which, for most, is outside of the ordinary. Despite two significant research turns – towards reflexivity and towards the ‘everyday’ – these experiences remain curiously neglected. Drawing on a study of small acts of help and support, I seek to push methodological debate about researching the ordinary beyond the technical challenges of surfacing or capturing the apparently mundane or ‘insignificant’. I do so by arguing that background feelings rooted in the living of, and sharing about, the ordinary are analytically important in their own right; that the ‘ordinary’ itself, therefore, has to be managed by research participants and researchers; and that Goffman’s notion of performance is a useful tool for understanding how this is done.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-269
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Volume22
Issue number3
Early online date14 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Keywords

  • everyday
  • ordinary
  • mundane
  • ambivalence
  • logs
  • emotions

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