Mixed-Methods Long-Term Ethnography: 15 Years on the Road With Touring Motorcyclists

Abstract

This case discusses a long-term mixed-methods project that involved an approximate 15-year period in which we examined the life and culture of touring motorcyclists in the United States, and to some extent, Canada. Although the methods are mixed, this discussion focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on ethnography. We discuss our experiences as a heterosexual mixed-gender research team that was not a couple or otherwise involved romantically. Our research collaboration, as such, appears to be somewhat unique in that long-term ethnographic research requires extended time periods of traveling together. We discuss why we began the project and some of the advantages and pitfalls that we experienced, both professionally and personally. We demonstrate how a researcher, or team of researchers, can utilize their own personal experiences and interests in developing and completing a long-term project, and how a study that starts out very small can expand to address questions that arise as data are collected. It also expanded our research into other subfields of sociology.

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