University of Sussex
Exiting Fieldwork ‘with Grace’- Reflections on the Unintended Consequences of Participant Observation and Researcher-Participant Relationships.pdf (256.23 kB)
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Exiting fieldwork ‘with Grace’: reflections on the unintended consequences of participant observation and researcher-participant relationships

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 22:57 authored by Paolo Franco, Ye YangYe Yang
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the methodological importance of how researchers exit fieldwork to draw attention to implications for participant and researcher well-being. Design/methodology/approach Reflecting in detail on one researcher’s final six-months exiting fieldwork at a retirement village, this paper critically examines the unintended consequences of participant observation and researcher-participant relationships. Findings The paper illustrates that difficulties to exit fieldwork can be unintended consequences of participant observation activities and developing researcher-participant relationships. The findings also discuss how fieldwork exit can impose upon participant and researcher well-being. Research limitations/implications The findings are built upon fieldwork at a retirement village where the researcher served as a volunteer. Thus, the discussion focusses on participant observation activities that are likely to lead to close researcher-participant relationships. However, this paper aims to serve as a useful resource for researchers when considering how to exit their unique fieldwork contexts “with grace”. Practical implications The paper provides practical suggestions to help marketing researchers such as ethnographers, manage fieldwork exits with participant and researcher well-being concerns in mind. Social implications The practical suggestions provided by this paper aim to enable marketing researchers to exit fieldwork contexts “with grace” through reflection and proactive management of the social impacts of their research activities. Originality/value Even though researchers acknowledge fieldwork is social and personal by nature, little research attention has been paid to the management of researcher-participant relationships and the exit stage of fieldwork. This paper discusses and addresses this blind-spot in marketing research.


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  • Published

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  • Accepted version


Qualitative Market Research: an international journal





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  • Strategy and Marketing Publications

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