The researcher’s participant roles in ethical data collection of Autistic interaction


  • Rachel S.Y. Chen University of California, Berkeley



Autism, atypical interaction, embodied interaction, participation framework, ethics


The method of participant-observation is fundamental to ethnomethodological, ethnographic video-based fieldwork. Collecting data of the embodied interactions of non-speaking Autistic individuals surfaces questions that are central to the nature of video-based fieldwork: What are the technical and interactional challenges of navigating the researcher’s multiple participant roles during data collection? What are ethical issues that arise with emergent participant roles during data collection? Grounded in two contrasting pieces of data—one of two siblings in a display of intimacy, and another of a student displaying distress—this paper examines the multiple participant roles the EMCA researcher navigates moment-by-moment during the data collection process. Studying these roles unearths participant orientations to the camera, the complex interactional work undertaken by the researcher, and ethical dilemmas when the positionality of the researcher becomes blurred.


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How to Cite

Chen, R. S. (2021). The researcher’s participant roles in ethical data collection of Autistic interaction. Social Interaction. Video-Based Studies of Human Sociality, 4(2).