Live Blogging my Institutional Ethnography Class (#3)

Alison Griffith “Constructing Single Parent Families” : She writes about the trouble with “deficiant single parents” – constructed as part of a wider social discourse. Meta-discourse, circulating in policy, pop-cuture, psychology etc, linking it all together. Griffith shows that institutional ethnography is effective in explicating how institutional processes construct commonsense notions of single parent families. Starts from the location of her own experience, and she isn’t just studying “public discourse”, but how the concepts of “single parent family” is taken up (kids are assumed to have troubles automatically). The administrative organization – funding is related. IE wants to bring everything down to the level where people are doing something, and “holding their own” – multi-stranded, showing how it gets in from the behind the scenes (funding, monitoring).

Turner, Susan. (2001) “Texts and the institutions of municipal overnment: The power of tests in the public process of land development.” Studies in Cultures, Organizations, and Societies, 7(2):297-325.

Susan Turner comments on her work regarding urban planning and explains the processes by which she developed an intricate and impressive method of mapping hundreds of textual connections between institutions. Whereas Griffith starts from the single parent, Turner starts from a more contained incident (recieving a flyer about a planned development that she was wanting stopped). She focuses on an “interface” moment – the focus around this planning process that pulls individuals into this subject position. The way the text is writen – that it was delivered – accounts for the fact that this [art was done. “Accomplishment” – the things of our world (i.e. seminar on IE) are accomplished by the artful activities of what we do in our everyday lived. In time, this “acheives” its satisfactory “accomplishment” as a course, reminding us not to take it for granted for the ways that it is “put together” – see some convergence with an ethnomethodological notion of “accomplishment” (of what is done in planning). People are pulled in, established as “residents” (relations with “co-residents), they begin to work together (Latour: ethno, IE, don’t assume existance of groups: what counts is an accomplishment of some form of social org: groupness needs to be constantly maintained, challenged). Over time, the residents learn to make objections that “fit” within the institutional settings (which has unintended results: the process of talking “differenty” they get pulled into another story (“Not in my backyard”)

Because a lot of qualitative inquiry is couched as a form of exploration or discovery, and is not based on a rigid research question or set of hypotheses, institutional ethnographers often worry about how to pitch their research to funding agencies. To remedy this worry, George Smith, Eric Mykhalovskiy and Douglas Weatherbee provide an example of how to construct an institutional ethnography research proposal. The study, of people living with HIV/AIDS, becomes a category of entitlement. Goes extra distance to locate individuals within ethnographies.

Standpoint is a positioning device: flashlight metaphor (not shining the light of the subject, but standing in the subjects place and shining the light outwards). Start at the interface between people and some institutional process. ex. a person who happens to be raising a child alone becomes a “SINGLE PARENT” As well as someone whose “utterances” becomes institutionalized (convergence with Foucault: “authoritative utterances”). Ways that we formulate what they write (see my IE proposal below!). Usually about a person, don’t reference the action or feelings.

Describing peope in their doings that extends what they know: not replacing it.

Mykhalovskiy, Eric. (2001) Troubled hearts, care pathways and hospital estructuring: Exploring health services research as active knowledge. Studies in Cultures, Organizations, and Societies, 7(2):269-298.

Convergence with governmentality, pulling it into the IE frame. Health sciences research institute where the research is done. How is this knowledge coordinated: Getting health care practitioners to do research based health care (“medicine news”) – health transfer, and how it is organized around “efficiency” – how does this report and tables do anything until they are taken up – how does this work?

The key interest in IE is coordination, the main ontological insight is the way one action or text projects forward into a future, but doesn’t neccesarily cause it. Invites and sets parameters for action that is continued when activities in the next moment hook back and pull it forward. Texts and actions in the past go to work only with people in that moment and pulling it back in. A hook projecting into the future what they themselves can hook back. Human life as “stiching through time” – the future is not yet there. Each moment is this chaining forward.



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