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From cooperative practice to research and back: learning from the emotional experience of ethnography with two social enterprises

Langmead, Kiri


Kiri Langmead


Purpose: The paper explores how experiences and emotions arising from the performance of ethnography shape the construction of knowledge about democratic practice in two social enterprises. It argues that ethnographer’s can develop a more nuanced understanding of organisational practices by moving beyond the self-reflexive work of being aware of ones position to embrace the emotional work of engaging reflexively with this position.

Design/methodology/approach: Reflections are made on the emotions and experiences arising during a 12 month ethnographic study in two social enterprises.

Findings: The author found that engaging reflexively with relational and emotional processes of meaning-make opened up three analytical starting points. First it highlighted and helped the researcher to see beyond the limits of their assumptions, opening them to new understandings of democracy. Second, it gave rise to empathetic resonance through which the researcher was able to ‘feel into’ the practice of democracy and re-frame it as a site of ongoing struggle. Finally, it brought to consciousness tacit ways of knowing and being central to both research and democratic praxis.

Originality/value: The paper adds to limited literature on processes of knowledge construction. Specifically it contributes new insights into how emotional experiences and empathetic resonance arising at the meeting point of research performance and democratic praxis can offer analytical starting points for a more nuanced understanding of democratic organising in social enterprise.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 20, 2017
Journal Social Enterprise Journal
Electronic ISSN 1750-8614
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 2
APA6 Citation Langmead, K. (2017). From cooperative practice to research and back: learning from the emotional experience of ethnography with two social enterprises. Social Enterprise Journal, 13(2), doi:10.1108/SEJ-07-2016-0028
Keywords ethnography; emotion; participant observation; worker cooperative; democracy; insider-outsider research
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Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf

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