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Before, during and after: realism, reexivity and ethnography

John Michael Roberts and Teela Sanders


Abstract
In this paper we argue that what is missing from many ethnographic accounts is a recognition that dilemmas inevitably emerge for the researcher before they make contact with the research setting, during the process of ethnographic research, and subsequently in the lengthy time taken to unravel the theoretical importance of the research after the eldwork has ended. Using a comparison of two ethnographies as case studies, and by recourse to a realist methodology, such dilemmas are, we argue, overdetermined by many non-observable social structures that inuence the everyday research process. We argue that specic mechanisms determine both the process and the outcome of the ethnographic journey in the before, during and after stages of research. For example we demonstrate how biography and the wider process of institutional knowledge production are two key resources that inuence research practice. We use the term pragmatic realism as a means to reect upon some of the connections between the dilemmas of research and real structures in these three stages.

Introduction
The past two decades have produced general textbooks that offer recipes of how to go about doing eldwork, and in particular ethnography (Atkinson et al., 2001; Burgess, 1984; Denzin and Lincoln, 1994; Fetterman, 1989; Hammersley and Atkinson, 1995). Conventions in writing or representing ethnography have undergone slight-to-massive revision (van Maanen, 1988: 45) resulting in a critical analysis of the textual strategies and an exploration of how elds are constructed in the writing process (Atkinson, 1992; Clifford and Marcus, 1986; Stanley, 1990; Stacey, 1988). In many respects these debates in ethnography are founded on wider theoretical controversies over the extent to which a researcher can ever truly gain a thick description (Geertz, 1993) of a cultural and social context. Evans Pritchards (1976) observations of witchcraft among the Azande in the Southern Sudan during the late 1920s was to unleash a debate amongst some in the social sciences about the extent to which researchers can make critical comments about another culture. This debate is still unravelling (see Sher, 2001) questioning to what extent can we,
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Realism, reexivity and ethnography

as academic researchers, and, by the same token, an outsider to the social context we are researching, adopt a standpoint that gains empathy and understanding of the lived experience of those who we are researching? Perhaps the most well known response to the insider/outsider problematic came from Peter Winch. In The Idea of a Social Science, Winch (1958) argues that there is no external world to which we have access and from which we can make critical judgements about another culture. What is important for Winch is gaining an understanding of the evaluative nature of social life; that is, the meanings and beliefs people construct within a culture and the connections made with our own biographies and social world. The importance of biography has been shown by those who have moved, sometimes uneasily, between the world of academia and everyday familiar cultures and lifestyles (Hobbs, 1993; Hockey, 1996; Ronai, 1992). Insider status does not necessarily mean that access to a particular social activity is smooth (for examples see Jorgenson, 1991, and Panourgia, 1995). The rise of an autoethnography as a critical methodology that explores contested meanings between the self and culture, returns our attention to this dilemma. To illustrate, Pelias (2003: 369) draws a metaphor between the ethnographer and the tourist, both of whom never get beyond the surface of things but only glance at another culture. Autoethnography has grown out of the crisis in representation which instead privileges the researcher over the subject and the method over the question (Spry, 2001: 710). This branch of reexivity has been encouraged by postmodern theory that seeks to draw out the narrative of participant observation and relationships in the eld that are gendered, racialized, sexualised, embodied and emotional (Coffey, 1999: 126). In many instances the biographical issue of insider/outsider has been dealt with by arguing that the encounter in the research eld is embodied. As Coffey (1999: 155) summarises, the reexive trend in ethnography over the past decade has given rise to the place and necessity of the personal narrative as a reliable mode of expressing ndings from the eld. This position does not merely focus upon how a body is represented, a position that is often underlined by the need to return to a true and ahistorical notion of a non-represented body, but also highlights how the body is an active site of contestation (see for example Bugdeon, 2003; Crossley, 2001; Giddens, 1991; Holliday and Hassard, 2001; Turner, 1996). What is noticeable about many of these approaches to ethnography is that they are premised upon a dualist standpoint. This can be seen most readily in the use of the terms self and other. Ethnographers frequently argue that interaction between their self and the other produces a dilemma within their own biography in the sense that the ethnographer must adopt at least two standpoints: that of an insider and that of an outsider. The implication is that the research self has a relatively unied and stable identity before the research encounter which only becomes dilemmatic during and after the research encounter. If this position is taken, reection is therefore
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relegated to a singular moment contextualised by the research practice. Accounts of identity fractures and acute liminality (Spry, 2001: 708) can be found in autoethnographic accounts but these interrogations of the self split the experience neatly into being here and being there as Geertz (1988) encouraged. While we are not arguing against this trend, we argue for an account of the ethnographic process that recognises the structural context of the eldwork setting and the academic environment, which has been somewhat marginalised as greater attention is given to personal identity and active participation. It is in this respect that we follow May (2004: 183) who suggests that a reexive research practice entails an understanding of the social conditions of social scientic knowledge production and its relation to knowledge reception and context and thus its capacity for action. Institutional knowledge production how knowledge is arrived at through different structural processes affects how we as social scientists gain access to the social world and thus how we reach particular results that we then pass on to others to digest. Specically we suggest that what is sometimes absent or unreported from such reexive accounts is a recognition that dilemmas inevitably emerge temporally for the researcher before they make contact with the research setting, during the process of ethnographic research, and subsequently in the time taken to unravel the theoretical importance of the research after the eldwork has ended. Moreover we suggest that the reexive dilemmas throughout these temporal moments differ depending upon the unique contexts in which they are played out. Contexts, in this regard, can be thought of as the conditioning processes that either facilitate or impede successful research practice; in this case ethnographic research practice. Contexts trigger particular mechanisms: resources, structural as well as individual, that provide individuals with the means to conduct research. However, the relationship between context and mechanism is a contingent one. Just because we may have isolated a mechanism that contributes towards successful ethnographic research, it does not follow that this mechanism will be evident in each and every research context (see Pawson and Tilley, 1997). But we should expect as much. Contexts are overdetermined by different social processes, many of them initially non-observable, that inuence a research context in different and unexpected ways. Inevitably, therefore, dilemmas are thrown up as the researcher confronts the myriad social processes that affect everyday research practice. In this paper we use the term pragmatic realism as a means to reect upon some of the contingent links between various mechanisms of ethnographic research, the contexts in which they emerge and the temporal sequence of the before, during and after stages of research. We make these observations by focusing upon the reexive dilemmas thrown up by these contingent links in the contexts of our own respective ethnographies.

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Pragmatic realism and ethnography


In everyday situations people frequently attempt to convince others of the reasonable nature of particular opinions. However, the fact that each person is located in numerous rhetorical contexts implies that they are simultaneously located in numerous argumentative situations. Therefore different opposing views will have to be countered and, as such, the same speaker may observe that a recently opposed opinion will have to be defended if s/he wishes to fend off objections to a current standpoint. Thus everyday life will contain a number of dilemmas for a person because it comprises contrary themes so that each person will never confront the world with a stable and unied identity (Billig, 1991, 1996; see also Bakhtin, 1987). This is particularly the case, we would argue, when we face dilemmas in our research practice. At this point in research practice, choices and decisions have to be made and an opportunity presents itself for a reexive standpoint to emerge about wider structural processes driving and inuencing our data collection. As Becker (1965: 602) reminds us: no matter how carefully one plans in advance the research is designed in the course of its execution. The nished monograph is the result of hundreds of decisions, large and small, whilst the research is underway. The problem thus becomes one of ascertaining at what level we should be reexive of the dilemmas we encounter when conducting research. For example, should we pay particular attention to the dilemmas as they reveal themselves at an everyday level? Or should we pay attention to how dilemmas are constituted, maintained, distributed and controlled by various structures at more non-observable levels (cf. Scholte, 1986: 1011)? From a realist perspective this is not an either/or question i.e. either we begin our analysis at a concrete level or we begin at an abstract level. Instead, a realist perspective recognises that the world is structured into at least three domains. First there is the empirical level where everyday events are directly experienced by individuals. Second there is the actual domain, where objects interact with one another and produce events in doing so. Finally there is the real domain. This is the most important domain of the three. The real domain refers to the intrinsic causal powers of objects irrespective of their impact upon another object. Thus the real is concerned to explore the internal structure of an object in order to understand its causal power to produce particular events in the world. In this instance we would be concerned to isolate the mechanism that triggers the causal power in question. Unlike the relatively closed world of natural scientic experiments, the social world is more contingent because of the unpredictable nature of human behaviour. This does not mean that it is impossible to isolate causal powers in the social world, but the high level of contingency means that law-like causal processes are impossible to nd. Thus it is more acceptable to say that

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social mechanisms produce different outcomes in the world as they interact with other mechanisms in other contexts (Sayer, 2000: 15). For example, a university comprises of various structures that, amongst other things, grant it the power to teach students at a degree level and award individuals with certain educational status. But this will only be activated depending upon other conditions and contexts, such as whether enough students enrol at the university in question. This, in turn, is predicated upon the interaction of other universities using their causal power to compete and lure students away from attending the university in question. There are six points to make about this simple example. First, we begin our analysis at an empirical level, in this case, as the university immediately appears to us. Second, we then move to an abstract level whereby we try to isolate the specic mechanisms and causal powers of universities. We then move down further levels of abstraction to isolate more concrete and complex properties of universities as they emerge from the abstract properties. Emergence, on this understanding, refers to those properties and processes that are relatively autonomous of their constituent properties even if they share an internal relationship to them. Emergent mechanisms can therefore react back upon their constituent properties and alter their form (see Carter and New, 2004; Danermark et al., 2002). For example, a recent emergent property of universities is distant learning. By activating the mechanism of distant learning a university will be obliged to alter its more basic structures of its relationship with students. Third, in our example each university will be equipped with specic resources with which to attract students. However, each university will also obtain these resources through their own respective structures (e.g. how much money they will be able to spend on enticing students) and wider structural processes (e.g. the amount of money received from external sources and the competitive environment between universities). These resources relate to the capacity each university has to attract students. In addition to these capacities, universities also have to inuence students choice for attending their particular university. Fourth, from our example we can see that the ability of a university to successfully activate its mechanisms depends upon the context in which it is working. As we can see from our example, social contexts are frequently overdetermined by a number of pre-existing social processes, from rules, regulations, power, gender relationships, and so on. In order to successfully activate their mechanisms, a university will have to try to inuence a social context within which it nds itself. Fifth, the realist analysis used here suggests that if a university is successful in enrolling students to its programs of study then there is something about how the university activates its mechanisms that makes it successful in this moment in time. What is important to note is that such success may lead to failure in another social context. Bearing this in mind we must be sensitive to the specic relationship between contexts and mechanisms that produce particular outcomes (Pawson and Tilley, 1997: 66). Finally, it 298
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is important to note that resources and reasons for acting change over time. A realist standpoint is thereby useful for research, we would argue, because it situates research practice within different social levels, at both the observable level and at the level of underlying non-observable mechanisms. It thereby aims to comprehend what is it about the mechanisms of particular research practices that prove successful in specic contexts. This is particularly helpful as regards ethnographic research. For example, it is often implied that successful ethnographic research is reliant upon the mechanism of reexivity being activated. As such, we must not only engage in a form of personal reexivity within our embodied experiences, but must also engage in a form of theoretical reexivity about the concepts we use and are developing in order to make sense about the structured and over determined nature of a particular social context (Cain, 1990). According to Davies, this type of reexivity is advantageous because it provides a philosophical basis for ethnographic research to provide explanatory (law-like) abstractions while also emphasizing its rootedness in the concrete, in what real people on the ground are doing and saying (Davies, 1998: 20). From our realist standpoint we would also highlight the resources at hand, our capacities and reasoning, that contribute towards a reexive ethnographic standpoint. These resources include research funding, access to the research context, relationships with respondents, opportunities to reect upon research while carrying it out, access to academic materials such as journal articles, a suitable research environment to return to from the eld in order to write up research ndings whether this is in the form of a report, journal articles or conference presentation. In addition the emotional context of the eldwork needs to be taker into consideration. As our list indicates, we suggest that there are a variety of mechanisms that exist at different levels of abstraction and within different structures. Moreover, these are all formed through distinct meanings, representations and narratives of how research is to be successfully carried out. To provide substance to what we have so far argued the remainder of the paper compares and contrasts our own experience of conducting ethnographic research. In our studies, these mechanisms of resources were activated in different ways depending upon the variety of contexts within which our ethnographies were designed, funded and conducted. Our ethnographies are suitable case studies because there are substantial features that determine different experiences, before, during and after the eldwork. Key differences include gender (one researcher is a man while the other is a woman), the social context of the research topic (one eldwork setting is a public, open activity while the other is a clandestine, private enterprise), and also nancial support (one doctorate was fully supported by a research council while the other was partly sponsored). As a result we experienced different dilemmas within the distinct stages of before, during and after we conducted our research which, in turn, produced distinct research outcomes.
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The studies
The rst researcher (JMR) carried out a nine-month doctoral ethnographic study, Speakers Corner: The Conceptualisation and Regulation of a Public Sphere, (Roberts, 1999) of Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, London during 1995. Ofcially established in 1872 through the Royal Parks and Gardens Regulation Act, Speakers Corner is seen as a public space where people can go to exercise their right of free speech. The range of subjects spoken about is diverse: politics, social issues, religion, mysticism, gay and lesbian issues, race and ethnicity, veganism, sex, issues around gender, and so on. JMR kept a eld notebook throughout, interviewed past and present regulars, nonregulars, members of the police and employees of the Royal Parks Agency. JMR also took part in the activities at Speakers Corner. For example JMR entered into numerous debates and discussion with various people, spoke on a platform, and heckled speakers. He also traced the history of Speakers Corner by attending three archive centres in London (The British Library, Kew Public Records Ofce and Westminster City Archive) as well as reading secondary historical material. The second researcher (TS) conducted a ten-month ethnographic study of the sex industry in Birmingham, UK during 20002001 for doctoral studies. The study A Risky Business: How Sex Workers Manage their Clients, Community and Conscience, (Sanders, 2002) focused on the types of occupational risks in the sex industry and how individual women responded to these risks. Similar to other research (Porter and Bonilla, 2000; Hubbard, 1999) locating the sex industry was facilitated through a sexual health project that operated an outreach service specically for sex workers. Observations were made of several different types of sex markets including the street, licensed saunas, brothels, escorts agencies and independent entrepreneurs. This involved informal conversations with over two hundred women and taped interviews with a further fty-ve women, some of whom were managers and owner of indoor sex establishments. TS was able to accompany the outreach workers on their nightly patrols of the street supplying condoms, needle syringes and hot chocolate to women on the street. In addition, over a thousand hours were spent with women in their working environments in the indoor markets, taking note of the day-to-day operations of the business and commercial negotiations between clients and workers. This project was complimented by a virtual ethnography of the Internet based sex market. By relying on our experiences in the studies outlined above, we attempt to illustrate the role of pragmatic realism in ethnography. This has been conceptualised in the three stages of engaging in ethnographic eldwork before entering the eld, during the data collection phase and after the researcher has left the setting.

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Before
C. Wright Mills (1959: 196) notes that using life history should be the basis of sociological inquiry: you must learn to use your life experience in your intellectual work, continually to examine and interpret it. This leads Mills to suggest that an educator must begin with what interests the individual most deeply, even if it seems altogether trivial and cheap (Wright Mills, 1959: 207). The idea that one must be reexive of ones own biography, even if it seems trivial and cheap is an idea that resonates with a pragmatic ethnographic enquiry the belief that there is no right way to conduct eldwork but instead adaptability is a necessary response to the uncertainty surrounding many aspects of the eld (Goldsmith, 2003: 112). Van Maanen (1988) uses the metaphor of an exile to convey this pragmatic approach. Fieldworkers, it seems, have to learn to move among strangers while holding themselves in readiness for episodes of embarrassment, affection, misfortune, partial or vague revelation, deceit, confusion, isolation, warmth, adventure, fear, concealment, pleasure, surprise, insult, and always possible deportation. . . . This may not be the way eldwork is reported, but it is the way it is done (van Maanen, 1988: 2). Thus life history and personal biography often affects how we choose our objects of enquiry and at the same time inuences the possibilities within the ethnography. For this reason Kempny and Burszta (1994) suggest that learning about the culture of the other is at the same time learning something about our culture. What Kempny and Burszta mean here is that ethnography is enmeshed within its own local knowledge of production, the sort of episodes underlined by van Maanen above, at the same time that it endeavours to understand the local cultures of the others experiences. Taking this on board, we would want to suggest that a crucial mechanism for the activation of a successful ethnography within the context of before one enters the research eld is to be reexive of ones local culture. Of special importance in this respect is a reexive stance towards ones reason for entering a eld in the rst place as well as the resources that will enable this to take place. We found that the contingency of our own experiences of conducting ethnographic research was regularly inuenced by what might be deemed at rst glance as being trivial interests, all of which frequently transformed our eldwork experiences into the sort of chaotic practice underlined by van Maanen. But this worked itself out at different levels of abstraction and through different resources and reasons. For example, an important emergent resource for successfully reecting upon ones local biographical context is adequate funding for data collection. JMR did not initially receive a full-time studentship, so consequently for most of his eldwork, was unemployed. In

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addition, he was registered as a part-time doctoral student at a university in the north of England, whereas his eldwork was conducted in London in southern England. This meant that he did not have access to an academic community in order to discuss his ideas before and as they developed. Thus, before his research had even started JMR faced the dilemma of the wider structural pressures of a competitive funding process for sociology doctoral students in the UK. For example, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the main funding body for social science doctoral research in the UK, estimated that in 2003 it received 1,800 applications for doctoral students for 700 studentships. As the ESRC says of this, so competition is healthy (ESRC, 2004). Coffey (1999: 139) notes that analysing data involves personal investment and can be a lonely enterprise but represents this level of emotional investment only during the ethnographic experience. For JMR, however, the emotional experience began before he entered Speakers Corner and entailed some reection about how he was to conduct his ethnography with limited resources. Because of the monetary constraints JMR had to carefully work out a weekly timetable of work. He estimated that he could afford to attend Speakers Corner every week and attend an archive centre twice a week. Most obviously, however, this was connected to wider structural relations about what it meant to survive on limited resources in the UK during the 1990s.1 For these reasons JMR relied upon assistance from his family who also lived in London. Importantly, therefore, within the research stage of before JMR did not successfully activate many of the relevant resources to conduct his ethnographic research. In contrast TS had greater access to the mechanism of research resources in the before stage because she held a particularly privileged position gained through an ESRC doctoral scholarship for three years which shaped the scope of the ethnographic possibilities. Such nancial support and membership of a prestigious university provided excellent postgraduate and library facilities including travel and conference bursaries, work space and a personal computer for the duration. In this case, the entry into eldwork was cushioned from the dilemmas JMR faced. Academic supports meant the doctoral project could be neatly divided into distinct timeframes, (a year for planning, a year for collecting, and a year for writing) with few other preoccupations. Access to an academic community, research seminars, lectures, and frequent guest speakers meant that planning the research beneted from wise words, role models and tales from the eld. Unlike many doctorate experiences it was a luxury to be part of a community where student ratios were small, and supervision sessions occurred almost on a weekly basis. On the face of it, these were positive structural issues. Nevertheless, these beginnings were also tainted by the relatively powerless position of the postgraduate student in a male dominated research and university culture that is structured by gender and ethnicity (Benschop and Brouns, 2003; Knight and Richards, 2003). 302
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Another important resource in the before context of ethnography is personal biography and how this often affects how access is negotiated. Biography is an underlining mechanism that informs many ethnographies and is often the initial inspiration of the inquiry. This has lead some ethnographers to declare that successful investigative eld research often starts from personal involvement and a membership role (Adler, 1985: 11). Testimonies to this formula of combining research with ones own cultural position can be found in Roseneils (1993) intellectual authobiography of Greenham Common, and Hobbs (1988) account of police culture and criminal entrepreneurship in his familiar East End. These examples exonerate the role of knowing local cultures and the place this has in the production of social science knowledge. Even though JMR did not enjoy the same resources as TS he could nevertheless draw upon the resource of his own biography. JMRs father had been a regular speaker at Speakers Corner since the mid-1970s. Thus JMR already had a gatekeeper to the research eld of Speakers Corner. Yet he was also aware that this could prove a hindrance, especially if other regulars associated him too readily with his fathers views, subject-matter, heckling of other speakers, and so on. Most importantly, JMRs initial belief was to think that free speech was a legally dened right at Speakers Corner, a belief that was to prove wrong only after he had left the data accumulation process (Roberts, 2001). Choosing Birmingham as the site of her eldwork was not a coincidence for TS, as she studied her rst degree there and lived near two of the saunas that were eventually key eldsites. Similar to JMR, TS therefore already held preconceived ideas, made from casual observations of the men and women who entered the sex establishments, compounded by urban folklore and local rumours. Equally, in a way that was not anticipated during the before phase, moral standpoints and ethical positions were put to the test during the research phase. Moreover, what became a saving grace, was a set of pragmatic skills acquired and practised as a social worker including the exposure to people who were marginalised, excluded and stigmatised (see also Heap, 2003). On both accounts, the authors recognised that the before stages heavily inuenced the research and posed dilemmatic junctures even prior to the data collection. In this respect, the biographical resource of gaining entry to the respective research elds was both a help and a hindrance. From our initial discussion of the before stage, therefore, we would say that reection upon our own biographies and the dilemmas that they produced was emergent from the more abstract mechanism of gaining adequate research funding to successfully activate the biographical resource. In the context that JMR found himself within, adequate reection was somewhat hampered by being distant from university resources and by the added pressure of getting the ethnography done as quickly as possible due to lack of resources. From the biographical point of view, JMR certainly could draw upon already existing contacts to negotiate entry into Speakers Corner, but these also proved problematic.
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Unlike JMR, TS did not experience the additional burden of obtaining the necessary monetary funds to conduct her research. In more realist language we would say that within her particular context TS was not affected by the mechanism of non-research funding. This is an important point to make. As Walters (2003) documents the external power relations of funders requirements affects individual researchers, departments and universities and potentially limits their freedom to be critical. However, many of the accounts already discussed rarely say anything substantial about this particular mechanism. Funding is briey mentioned in some of the how to PhD guides (for example Graves and Varma, 1997) but the extent to which this determines what knowledge gets the go-ahead while other areas are marginalised, is underrated. In comparing our ethnographic encounters, we have come to conclude that wider structural processes such as research funding and, for that matter, changes in university systems are a crucial means of activating successful research practices. For example, the contract research culture has a signicant bearing on the type of information that is initially funded and collected, and the premises on which certain areas are privileged as worthy of sociological interest. As Collinson (2003) demonstrates the inferior status of social science contract researchers in the UK compared to permanent academic staff has created a need to develop strategies to cope with the emotional element of the insecure contract cycle. Concerns relating to the inuence of the contract research culture in the social sciences was raised at the British Sociological Association conference in 1999 where a workshop was held on doing and managing contract research (Platt, 2003: 97). The impact of the contract research culture on employee relationships, the structure of departments, the future of individual disciplines and the nature of the information that is produced has been vastly overlooked (Collinson, 2003). Our survival in academia depends on publications in refereed journals and other measured outputs that has been cynically, but perhaps poignantly, characterised by Frey (2003) as intellectual prostitution. The structural constraints and political climate that determine the production of knowledge, occupational status and employers conditions are as pressing for those who have bridged the graduate experience as they are for those who are etching a route through the PhD. Resource mechanisms are subject to change depending on the cycle of the contract culture, the pressure on departments to perform and the competition of grant awards. Next, we return again to our own ethnographies, this time the during phase, to clarify how these broader changes inuence research practice.

During
It is generally acknowledged that an important mechanism for the activation of a successful ethnography in the during stage of research is the maintenance 304
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of dialogue between the investigator and the researched. According to Hervik (1994: 87), dialogic negotiation with the other during ethnographic research involves a process of shared reasoning. By using this term Hervik is calling attention to different cultural models that researchers and others display, but which nevertheless frequently overlap in diverse ways. Often our meanings have a resonance with those we are researching. Resonance refers to the taken-for-granted experiences that occur in everyday life as happenings. If these happenings become related to happenings within the researchers life then they are transformed into events of shared reasoning between the researcher and the other based upon the cultural outlook of each. The mechanism of reexivity in the during stage is thus an ongoing encounter with the other. Taking this on board, we follow Prus (1998: 28) who argues that it is essential for the ethnographer to generate openness with those s/he is researching. The reason is two-fold. First, openness cultivates a degree of tolerance of the researcher. Second, openness generates willingness on the part of the other to share a wide range of materials with the researcher. What we would add to Pruss discussion is that openness is successful depending upon the social context that activates openness, and thereby shared reasoning, in the rst place. We can see this in relation to points of entry to the eld. In the context of Speakers Corner, JMR discovered that his openness about his relationship with his father with other respondents was sometimes an impediment. While it was true that it facilitated contacts at Speakers Corner, it also meant that regulars would identify him with his fathers reputation. This posed dilemmas as to how JMR reasoned about this. First, JMR had to disengage himself from this association if he wished to interview those regulars who had a hostile relationship with his father. With these regulars, therefore, JMR would attempt to renegotiate his embodied identity as a sociological researcher and stay silent about his family relationship. Second, JMRs relationship with his father meant that some regulars perceived him as a friend or acquaintance in much the same way that they perceived his father. Many of these regulars would socialise with JMR in ways that meant his independence as a researcher was jeopardised. The difcult nature of activating the mechanism of openness in ethnographic research have lead some to suggest that the ethnographer should engage in impression management in order to supervise ones identity in the eld (see Hammersley and Atkinson, 1995: 83). As Goffman (1989: 129) notes, the ethnographer manipulates his/her identity in the process of getting into place and the exploitation of the place in order to reach a position where you could settle down and forget about being a sociologist. Again, however, the successful implementation of biography and identity as a resource depends upon other mechanisms within the specic boundaries of the during stage. For instance, what may at rst appear as commonalties between a researchers biography and the research population is not always a straightforward green light to creating effective relationships (see Pryke, 2004). As an ex-social worker TS found that gaining access to the sexual health project
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was surprisingly easy. Previous work experience in a government bureaucracy, carrying out statutory legal proceedings and working with vulnerable women, afforded TS credence with the managers of public sector agencies who were to become golden gatekeepers. Relying on previous skills gained in statutory child protection work as well as newly gained research skills, a research bargain was struck with the team (for further details see Sanders, 2005). Unlimited access was given to shadow the employees of the project in return for working on the night outreach van, collating statistics and writing the odd report. However, this straightforward manoeuvre over the rst barrier led to a brick wall as TS tried to negotiate her way into saunas, brothels and escort agencies. It was readily apparent that it would not be advantageous to use the previous social worker label as a way into the sex markets. Indeed this identity was never mentioned because of the social control stereotypes associated with this role. Instead, as Berger (2001) reveals, it was only by disclosing narratives about the self, and therefore entering into authoethnographic techniques, that rapport was possible. The need for self-disclosure about various personal life experiences became the only basis through which sex workers could make decisions about the inquirer, not as a sociologist, but as another woman. The necessary requirements of disclosing personal details in the eld are often not realised before hand. As Goode (2003) testies in his ethnography of the Fat Civil Rights Association, in order to be accepted into the group he had to make a personal disclosure regarding his sexual attraction to larger women. The resource of the self inadvertently affects getting into place and the ability to form and maintain constructive relations in the eld. These dilemmas rebound upon how different identities are needed for different audiences. In this way the researcher has to pre-empt how each audience will construct the researcher in relation to their own lives. For instance, speaking with individual sex workers, it became apparent they had little concern with what university TS was afliated or even the purpose of her enquiry. Instead, women wanted to be able to locate the researcher and make sense of her presence in their world. The need to invest oneself in the research process is something that novice feminist sociologists learn from the literature. However, this was no preparation for the intimate and sometimes challenging questions that respondents asked, or the extent to which TS had to engage in self-disclosure in order to develop effective relationships from which trust could be built. Through self-disclosure, emotional involvement with informants and personal investments in maintaining relationships the eldwork was constantly situated between autobiography and anthropology (Hastrup, 1992: 117). JMR also discovered that the resource of previous knowledge about Speakers Corner through his father and through attendance as a child did not equip him with an in-depth understanding of Speakers Corner. Indeed, in many respects it had instilled in him misleading information about Speakers Corner. During his ethnographic research JMR failed to adequately 306
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theorise and research how more abstract structures of legal discourse positioned and governed the utterances of those within the spatial connes of Hyde Park. In essence, therefore, the unique before and during stages within which JMR was working had failed to fully activate a continual reexive mechanism that is so important for successful ethnographic research (see Armstrong, 1993; van Maanen, 1995; Pearson, 1993). The dilemma surrounding reection was also an important one for TS. Pieces of information dropped onto the ethnographic canvas on a daily basis and as time went by the picture became increasingly messy, blurred and indistinguishable from the original landscape. During the eldwork, energies were spent trying to get through the day without causing offence, getting in the way or wasting opportunities to observe something new. The messiness of ethnography meant that gaining a workable level of acceptance (Sharpe, 2000: 368) was the central objective and after several months, concerns then moved to establishing a mutually advantageous relationship with respondents (Smith and Wincup, 2000: 342). What we might therefore conclude from our brief discussion of the during stage is that issues around mechanisms of research resources have less impact upon reexive dilemmas at this moment in ethnographic research. Certainly JMR still did not have access to research funding, but as our discussion indicates, TS also found that being reexive at this stage was a difcult process. To conclude this section, therefore, we would say that in the during stage, reexivity in our respective ethnographic research became bound up with biographical resources and their emergent properties rather than research resources. We now move on to the after stage.

After
When entering the after stage in ethnographic research important questions arise around issues of closure, cutting off relationships with respondents and manoeuvring oneself out of the environment one tried so hard to become part of (Snow, 1980). This initial phase signals the mobilisation of resources so that one can begin data analysis, create transcriptions, and apply analytical tools to make sense of the mass of information accumulated. Again, this moment operates at different levels of abstraction. In the case of the ethnography of Speakers Corner JMR nally received a full-time doctorate studentship at a different university to continue his studies. This allowed him to activate the crucial mechanism of funding that was absent in the before context. By having access to books, journals and other resources, JMR was able to engage in a theoretical moment of reexivity. This is a crucial moment of a realist approach to research because it enables the researcher to make causal connections with discrete pieces of data and to see the extent to which nonobservable structures and social processes determine the social context one has spent months exploring. During this moment of reection JMR made
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substantial breakthroughs to his research which changed considerably the direction of the study. For example, JMR now had time to reect upon the meaning of free speech in modern societies (see Roberts, 2003). But JMR could not completely cut off his relationship with respondents. After all, his father was still a regular at Speakers Corner. This meant that JMR was still receiving information about Speakers Corner during his writing up phase. In one important respect, therefore, JMRs moment of theoretical reexivity was being informed by new information about Speakers Corner. For TS, the after stage of the ethnographic eld work was not one period but a continual unwinding of both intellectual and emotional understandings of the research experience based on the changing power structures encountered. TS only really understood the patterns of sex work observed when the interviews were studied as a collective set of interviews rather than separate accounts. Here, the nature of sex workers practices (for instance, strategies of secrecy, safety and emotional management) could only be fully understood as codes of practice that shape the social organisation of prostitution through a collective approach to the data. A second monumental stage of understanding the research process was at the viva voce that highlighted the theoretical importance of the ndings and placed them rmly within a criminological understanding of organised subcultures. This lead to new paths of theoretical reexivity, a separate body of literature, and an alternative intellectual framework through which the sex industry could be understood. The third phase of the after stage was only realised for TS after a physical relocation to another institution that enabled her to recognise the constraints under which she originally wrote up the project. Despite the supportive academic environment there was an accompanying restriction on what was considered sociology. Writing in an academic environment that favoured quantitative research methods and a positivist approach to inquiry essentially stied reexivity and any consideration of power relations. Finding new resources such as likeminded ethnographers and a wider acceptance that reection is part of the process of ethnography has enabled TS to revisit her place in the sex industry. For the rst time, this phase enabled a closer look at how sexuality, nudity and observing the processes of a deviant sexual act shaped the ethnography (Sanders, 2004, 2005). This has occurred nearly three years after entering the eld, echoing what Mauthner and Doucet (2003) have described as the difculties of doing reexivity. In what Denzin and Lincoln have called the sixth moment of qualitative research (Denzin, 1997) there is an increasing realisation that a critical approach to methodology is necessary. However, as TS realised, the time and place for this critical approach does not automatically follow exiting the eld, or does it naturally occur in the writing up phase. The process of moving from the structural processes underlying the identity of a postgraduate student to becoming a newly accepted member of the academic community brought with it a change in status that affected how the data could be approached and more importantly written about. Socialised into the habits of academic life (Pelias, 2003), 308
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the rituals of performance began, by turning ndings into articles in an effort to contribute to sociological knowledge. Only with the passage of time does one become aware of the frames of reference that shape the research (Miller, 1997), have access to a temporal distance through which the self can be understood (Goode, 2003) or truly observe the internal and external factors that inuence any attempt to revisit the eld or data (Burawoy, 2003).

Conclusion
Within ethnography there has been a tendency to equate realism, and the quest for a scientic approach to researching the social world, as bordering upon an empiricist or positivist standpoint. Hammersley and Atkinson (1995), for example, associate the pursuit for reliable objective knowledge about the social world with a rather simplistic positivist account. In this account, continue Hammersley and Atkinson, the positivist social researcher claims access to superior knowledge than that of respondents lay or tacit knowledge because of the formers somewhat spurious belief that a scientic method can produce objective knowledge beyond that of immediate experiences. In their highly inuential analysis of anthropological schools of thought, Marcus and Fischer (1986) argue that realist ethnographies allow the ethnographer to remain in unchallenged control over his account, delivering a distanced representation of cultural experience (Marcus and Fischer, 1986: 545). According to Marcus and Fischer, realist ethnographers attempt to locate cultural representations within an overarching functional whole, in which a societys parts are seen to t neatly together into a functioning totality. While these points are well taken, and indeed do serve to criticise nave realism, they nevertheless tend to throw the objective baby out of the ethnographic bathwater. For it has also been a central part of our argument to suggest that a more sophisticated realism can be appropriated for ethnographic inquiry, and one which retains the belief in causal processes without relapsing into empiricist or positivist accounts.2 For example we have identied through our subjective experiences that the casual powers involved in the stages of ethnographic research are distinctly related to resources and reasons at a range of levels. As a result we believe that, to paraphrase Pawson and Tilley (1997: 114), the advantage of this realist approach to ethnography enables a greater degree of specicity of understanding how mechanisms and contexts help to change our reexive standpoint throughout the ethnographic enterprise in order to produce different outcomes. Our discussion has highlighted how reexivity within ethnography is not only affected by biographical resources, a factor commented upon by numerous ethnographers, but also, perhaps more importantly, by research resources. This has enabled us to develop a more nuanced reexive account of the changing social and power structures that inuence the status of the researcher. And so, for instance, we
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have noted how the external power relations of funders requirements affect individual researchers, departments and universities, the freedom to refuse, be critical and reveal partial truths is still the privilege of the academic. This is an important point, if for no other reason than because ethnographic textbooks tend to concentrate upon subjective experiences of research such as time spent trying to gain access, recording what you can and questions over entering and exiting the eldsite with as little disruption as possible (see also Goldsmith, 2003). We have found that few of these textbooks say much about the causal processes, including certain power relations, that activate or impede what might be thought of as successful ethnographical research at particular stages of data collection. Thus, in our experiences, many textbook guides may explore concrete, empirical and subjective experiences of ethnographic research but they tend to neglect broader structural mechanisms. These mechanisms are diverse in scope and range from problems of gaining research money to analysing structural modes of regulating a research context, to the historical processes that have structured a research context thereby giving it a unique ideological identity. The point to make is that all of these processes are connected in some way or another and that all exist at different levels of abstraction.

Notes
1 We do not have the space to pursue this point here, but for a discussion of relevant points see Dwyer, (2000). For a discussion of some changes in relation to the welfare state in the 1990s and 2000s see Roberts and Devine (2003). 2 We could go further on this point by showing how causal powers also work within specic social and historical relations, like those of capitalism, and how these relations embed causal powers within specic ideological relations. However, we do not have the space to pursue this point here, although for a further discussion see Dean et al. (2005) and Roberts (2003).

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