Using Ethnographic Methods in a Fluid and Ephemeral Research Site

Abstract

This case study refers to a 4.5-month period spent researching the practices and values of volunteers working in the field of sea turtle conservation. This research was undertaken with the kind cooperation of ARCHELON, the sea turtle protection society of Greece. The group with whom my research was conducted were volunteers working for between 2 weeks and 4.5 months, with the majority staying for between 4 and 6 weeks, in the south of Greece. The group was, then, in a constant state of flux, with new volunteers arriving and others leaving on an almost daily basis. I have volunteered at this site on repeated occasions – three times simply as a volunteer and twice as a researcher. The current research comprised a combination of participant observation and semi-structured interviews. Interviews were conducted twice with most participants: once towards the beginning of their period of volunteering and once shortly before they left. This case study will focus on the methodological implications of doing grounded theory research with strangers and with friends and the transition between the two, in a fluid and ephemeral community such as this.

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