On studying peoples’ participation across contemporary timespaces:
Disentangling analytical engagement
This paper presents critical reflections regarding entangled relationships between access, communication and inclusion and illustrates how these play out across multiple analytical scales, ranging from interactional data analysis to engagement with policy data. The study draws on our ethnographic fieldwork from two large projects where roughly 45 18-50+ year-old people have been shadowed across settings. The study aims to illuminate dimensions of analyst’s participation in terms of the flow of the everyday lives of people they track within and across physical-online spaces and within and across education, workplaces, cultural settings, homes, leisure-time, governmental agencies, health services, social media, etc. Such a stance acknowledges the mobile yet situated, partial and limited nature of contemporary existence and that of knowledge generation within the research enterprise.
By engaging with what we call a “second wave of southern perspectives” (SWaSP), the access that scholars have and the identity-positionings of people they track can be understood in terms of (non)support i.e. (non)affordances of different settings for human beings’ possibilities to engage in social practices. In addition to bringing into dialogue different theoretical clusters within a SWaSP framing, the study goes beyond essentialized ways of understanding methodologies or single project reporting, and attempts to shed light on the chained entanglements, intersections and enactments of policy and practice, artefacts and humans, including the ways in which such relationships seldom present themselves in an intuitive manner for the analyst (or project participants).
A SWaSP framing is attended to as dimensions of doing multiple-scale ethnography, in terms of being positioned as scholars who are mobile across contemporary physical-online spaces, are reflexive about their mobile gaze and who follow individuals, tools and inscriptions as they emerge across online/physical/private/institutional spaces. Where someone is, how and when people meet, what such meetings offer in terms of positionality, opportunities, meaning-making and learning, are riddled with continua and disruptions that not only create analytical and methodological dissonance in mainstream scholarship but, more significantly, emerge as challenges for scientific enquiry by taking onboard the very theoretical and methodological implications of such continua and disruptions.
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