This original and authoritative exploration of ethnographic writing comes from one of the world's leading academics in the field, Paul Atkinson. The third book in his seminal quartet on ethnographic research, it provides thoughtful, reflective guidance on a crucial skill that is often difficult to master. Informed throughout by extracts from Paul’s own writing, this book explores and examines a broad range of types and genres of ethnographic writing, from fieldnotes and ‘confessions’, to conventional ‘realist’ writing and more. Whilst highlighting the possibilities and implications of ethnographic text, this valuable resource will help those conducting ethnographic research select and adopt the most appropriate approach for their study.



There are now many varieties of textual practice that reflect recent responses to the perceived limits of more traditional ethnographic writing. They include attempts to produce more overtly ‘literary’ texts, and to use alternative compositional styles to convey something particular about the social world. There have been suggestions that the complexities of social life call for ‘messy’ texts: the monological authority of the ethnographer replaced by a polyvocal text that accommodates multiple ‘voices’ and mitigates the single, omniscient perspective of the author. The realist text, it is argued, should be replaced with more overtly literary models. The impersonally distanced ethnography would be supplanted by a more personally engaged text. Calls for renewed attention to ethnography’s textual practices are also sometimes couched in terms ...

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