From Participant Observation to Relational Ethnography: A Reflexive Look Through a Systemic Lens


As head of Drug Policy and Programmes for HM Prison Service, England and Wales in 2003, I was aware of the need to rehabilitate women prisoners who had mis-used drugs prior to custody. Consequently, I conducted a study to identify the evidence for an effective therapeutic community for women in prison. The combination of methods used included participant observation, focus groups, and individual semi-structured interviews. This case seeks to address the issues that arose for me in my role as a researcher while engaged in the study. I provide a reflexive account of my experience through a systemic lens, exploring my immersion into the observed group and ethnography as a relational, embodied research method.

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