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Pete Atherton

Abstract

This paper inhabits the increasingly popular space of autoethnographic study. The piece is designed to critique and contextualise the process and usefulness of autoethnography as a way of making meaning. The study centres on how one highly experienced teacher and newly appointed teacher educator is using narrative writing to unpick and locate their skillset in a period of swift change and marked transition. One of the reasons for this choice is the freedom that autoethnography allows. Autoethnography is frequently dismissed as vague and self-indulgent as a method of social research. This paper will propose that autoethnography is a rigorous and powerful research method. It deploys some innovative methods of data collection, analysis and dissemination. The paper's discussion of the literature will naturally help interrogate debates around where autoethnography sits in the intellectual landscape related to qualitative research. The study found that using grounded theory as a research methodology helped arrive at potentially illuminating theories and self-knowledge. These were limited, however, by the underlying risk of indulgence, subjective autobiographical writing and participant bias. The paper also has potential value as a way of helping early career teachers explore critical incidents.

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