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Special Issue on Exploring the Différance between At-Home Ethnography and Ethnography Abroad


Special issue call for papers from Journal of Organizational Ethnography

Guest Editors:

Oana Brindusa Albu: oabri@sam.sdu.dk
Jana Costas: costas@europa-uni.de

Aims & Scope


“At-home ethnography,” Mats Alvesson (2009) claims, is “a study and a text in which the researcher-author describes a cultural setting to which s/he has a ‘natural access’ and in which s/he is an active participant, more or less on equal terms with other participants” (p. 159). This approach differs from what could be called “ethnography abroad,” where the researcher-author must negotiate access and seeks to become a “native” in a “foreign” setting.

The aim of this special issue of the Journal of Organizational Ethnography is to highlight the différance between at-home ethnography and ethnography abroad, and thus to question taken for granted dichotomies inherent in this distinction, such as closeness vs. distance, insider vs. outsider, us vs. them, or local vs. global. In this case, différance (Derrida, 1976) refers to the ongoing deferral of meaning, or endless interplay between the words “at home” and “abroad”, which is at play in these times of globalization where complex societies are increasingly dispersed and mediated (see Couldry, 2003; see also Hannerz, 1992) and where life-spheres are “indeterminate and ambiguous” (Johnsen & Sørensen, 2015, p. 323). Hence, submissions for this special issue may reflect on the liminality and in-betweenness of being “at home abroad” as well as being “abroad at home” in organizational ethnography; they may address how “insider- outsider/outsider-insider” dialogue can be accomplished in organizational ethnography; or they may describe the “rites of passage’” (Van Gennep, 1909/1960) researchers go through when doing organizational ethnography in complex organizations.

By promoting reflection on the différance between at-home ethnography and ethnography abroad, this special issue will provide valuable insights into the challenges of conducting an organizational ethnography in one’s “home” organization, community, or country vis-à-vis doing so in a “foreign” organization, community, or country, as well as provide useful conceptual and methodological ways for dealing with them.

This is an open call and we invite submissions from any experts in organizational ethnography. Contributing authors may reflect on questions such as the following as well as others:

1. What are the challenges of doing fieldwork in organizations in one’s home country in comparison to doing such work abroad?
2. How do ethnographers negotiate ideals such as “a moderate degree of involvement” and “right moments” (Alvesson, 2009, p. 160) when doing fieldwork at home?
3. How does the notion of “being at home” deconstruct itself in the actual practice of fieldwork? How does one deal with the challenges of being a “foreigner” in one’s own organization, community, or country? How does one break out of the presupposed familiarity of being at home?
4. How does one deal with the challenges of being/becoming a “native” abroad? How can local familiarity be achieved, given that contemporary notions of “home” are increasingly fragmented due to geopolitics and the colonial design of nation states?

Submission details & deadline


We invite authors to submit their manuscripts by 31 December 2017. After blind reviews, initial decisions will be made by 1 February 2018. Final acceptance decisions will be made by 30 April 2018. The special issue will be published in June 2018.

Papers should not be longer than 8,000 words, including references. Authors are advised to familiarize themselves with the journal author guidelines available in the “write for this journal” section on the Journal of Organizational Ethnography webpage: www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/joe.htm