Emotions, ethnography and crack cocaine users


Briggs, Daniel 2011. Emotions, ethnography and crack cocaine users. Emotion, Space and Society.
AuthorsBriggs, Daniel

There is little acknowledgement of researcher emotions in qualitative texts; especially so, within the context of street drug users. In these contexts, there is little reflection on how emotion is shaped in the field, not only with research participants, but also within the research environments. Based on a project which used visual ethnographic methods with a cohort of crack cocaine users in south London, this paper offers some reflection on these issues. It considers the practical, methodological and ethical tensions of managing relationships when repositioning ethnography within ‘visual ethnography’ to fit the remit of another qualitative project. Using both interview and observation data, I will exemplify this through two case study ‘scenes’ which follow the narrative of “Blood”.1 I firstly argue that the methodological, emotional, ethical, and pragmatic characteristics of ethnography become ‘magnified’ in the process of capturing visual data. Secondly, I also suggest that many of the ‘everyday’ interactional faculties available to ethnographers are difficult to maintain when using such visual methods in drug-using locations because awareness of social dynamics are amplified. My conclusion offers critical reflections and reflects on the emotional consequences for the researcher when withdrawing from the field.

KeywordsEmotions; Ethnography; Crack cocaine; Fieldwork
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
Accepted author manuscript
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10552/1615
Publication dates
Print02 Oct 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Jun 2012
Additional information

Briggs, D.(2011) “Emotions, ethnography and crack cocaine users”, Emotion, Space and Society, In press, available online 2 October 2011, DOI: 10.1016/j.emospa.2011.09.002.

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