'Political Activist as Ethnographer', Revisited

Ian Hussey


In this essay I revisit and expand upon George Smith’s landmark article, “Political Activist as Ethnographer” (1990). Political activist ethnography (PAE) is a specialized form of institutional ethnography (IE) that has not received nearly enough attention in the twenty years since the original publication of Smith’s article. In an effort to revisit and bolster this research approach, I provide an overview of IE/PAE and critically engage with three recent commentaries on PAE, and along the way I offer a novel interpretation of this approach as well as an example of its application from my own ongoing research.


Institutional ethnography; political activist ethnography

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