Title

Poster Session - Occupations of drag queens and students with intellectual and developmental disabilities: Revealing the benefits of collaborative ethnography

Location

Himmarshee Room & 8th Floor Balcony

Start Time

3-10-2015 11:45 AM

End Time

3-10-2015 1:00 PM

Abstract

Occupational science researchers have looked towards ethnographic methods as a viable way to elucidate the complex emergence of occupation for both individuals and communities (Bailliard, Aldrich, & Dickie, 2012). These ethnographic methods have been founded both in classical ethnographic philosophy and, increasingly, more collaborative approaches. Classical ethnography has traditionally maintained an “objective” distance from the consultant, attempted to find objective truth, and prioritized the sensory experience of the ethnographer over that of the consultant (Clifford, 1983). Through this distancing, classic ethnography ineffectively attempts to extract the subjectivity of the ethnographer and consultants from study findings, denying its unquestionable influence in the resulting understanding of the consultant experience. However, through collaborative ethnographic methods, the relationship between ethnographer and consultants is prioritized as a determinant of outcomes. In recognizing and leveraging this relationship, researchers can facilitate a continual construction of shared meaning that is a more appropriate and congruent representation of the experience of both ethnographer and consultant (Jackson, 1989). As experienced by the researchers, this more collaborative approach to research allowed for a richer understanding of drag as it emerged through a family of drag queens and enabled a more adequate representation of the occupational experience of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities during post-secondary transition. Various ethnographic approaches, which acknowledged and built upon the inescapable collaborative nature of ethnography, encouraged openness and reciprocal intimacy between researchers and consultants as they explored the dynamic and artistic expression of drag and the community inclusion of post-secondary transition students. By specifically offering increased opportunity for consultant feedback and review, researchers were first challenged to understand drag as more than simply “dressing as a girl,” allowing its conceptualization to bourgeon into a complex and dynamic experience of occupation. Secondly, through collaboration with the charter school staff and participant observation with the students and vocational settings, multifaceted and emergent relationships that could be sustained through and after graduation began to surface. Through juxtaposition of the two researchers’ experiences with seemingly dissimilar populations, the benefits of collaborative ethnography with diverse populations are illuminated. By understanding both the challenges and benefits of sincere collaboration during ethnographic research, we were able to gain an invaluable tool for future exploration and study of occupation across a variety of communities.

Key Words: ethnography, drag, transition

References

Bailliard, A., Aldrich, R., & Dickie, V. (2013). Ethnography and the transactional study of occupation. In M. Cutchin and V. Dickie (Eds.), Transactional perspectives on occupation (pp. 157-168). New York, NY: Springer.

Clifford, J. (1983). On ethnographic authority. Representations, 1(2), 118-146.

Jackson, M. (1989). Introductions. In M. Jackson (Ed.), Paths toward a clearing: Empiricism and ethnography inquiry (pp. 1-17). Bloomington, In: Indiana University Press.

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Oct 3rd, 11:45 AM Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

Poster Session - Occupations of drag queens and students with intellectual and developmental disabilities: Revealing the benefits of collaborative ethnography

Himmarshee Room & 8th Floor Balcony

Occupational science researchers have looked towards ethnographic methods as a viable way to elucidate the complex emergence of occupation for both individuals and communities (Bailliard, Aldrich, & Dickie, 2012). These ethnographic methods have been founded both in classical ethnographic philosophy and, increasingly, more collaborative approaches. Classical ethnography has traditionally maintained an “objective” distance from the consultant, attempted to find objective truth, and prioritized the sensory experience of the ethnographer over that of the consultant (Clifford, 1983). Through this distancing, classic ethnography ineffectively attempts to extract the subjectivity of the ethnographer and consultants from study findings, denying its unquestionable influence in the resulting understanding of the consultant experience. However, through collaborative ethnographic methods, the relationship between ethnographer and consultants is prioritized as a determinant of outcomes. In recognizing and leveraging this relationship, researchers can facilitate a continual construction of shared meaning that is a more appropriate and congruent representation of the experience of both ethnographer and consultant (Jackson, 1989). As experienced by the researchers, this more collaborative approach to research allowed for a richer understanding of drag as it emerged through a family of drag queens and enabled a more adequate representation of the occupational experience of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities during post-secondary transition. Various ethnographic approaches, which acknowledged and built upon the inescapable collaborative nature of ethnography, encouraged openness and reciprocal intimacy between researchers and consultants as they explored the dynamic and artistic expression of drag and the community inclusion of post-secondary transition students. By specifically offering increased opportunity for consultant feedback and review, researchers were first challenged to understand drag as more than simply “dressing as a girl,” allowing its conceptualization to bourgeon into a complex and dynamic experience of occupation. Secondly, through collaboration with the charter school staff and participant observation with the students and vocational settings, multifaceted and emergent relationships that could be sustained through and after graduation began to surface. Through juxtaposition of the two researchers’ experiences with seemingly dissimilar populations, the benefits of collaborative ethnography with diverse populations are illuminated. By understanding both the challenges and benefits of sincere collaboration during ethnographic research, we were able to gain an invaluable tool for future exploration and study of occupation across a variety of communities.

Key Words: ethnography, drag, transition