‘Puzzling’ Moments in the Field

PRIF Working Paper about positionality and self-reflexivity in field research by Sezer İdil Göğüş.

Photo: Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

In the PRIF Working Paper “'Puzzling‘ Moments in the Field: Dilemmas on Positionality and Self-Reflexivity“ Sezer İdil Göğüş asseses her experiences while doing ethnographic fieldwork in Turkey.

Various factors such as gender, age, education and/or ethnicity can influence accessing the field. Moreover, these factors and the researcher’s previous experiences can shape how she/he may perform the research and feel about situations in the field. Therefore, it is important to reveal the researcher’s self-reflexivity and positionality in order to grasp the conditions, which shaped the research.

Based on the ethnographic field research conducted in 2016 in Turkey, this paper aims to reflect on such issues. Based on three situations, I would like to show how concerns about "failure" in the field can arise during research. These situations can evoke concerns on ‘failure’ in the field. However, I argue that these should not be perceived as problems, but rather as ‘puzzles’ to solve. Indeed, they are full of possibilities for researchers to better understand their role, identity and others in the field. They also enable the researcher to scrutinise where the ethnographic knowledge claims are coming from.