Uncovering a Hidden “I” in Contemporary Urban Ethnography


Direct all correspondence to Alford A. Young Jr, Departments of Sociology, University of Michigan, 500 S. State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; e-mail: ayoun@umich.edu


Considerations of the self in ethnography have taken on various forms, including reportage of how the researcher gained access to a field site as well as achieved rapport with those who were the focus of study. I contend here that there exists a less well-recognized form of selfhood in ethnography that pertains to the moral self of the ethnographer. This self reflects the sociopolitical or aesthetic orientation taken by the ethnographer of the problem that has framed the research endeavor resulting in the ethnographic product. Through assessments of the work of some ethnographers, including myself, who study people in social categories in which the ethnographer holds membership, this essay explores that dimension of the ethnographer's moral self.