The Embodied Ethnographer: Journeys in a Health Care Subculture

  • Nicola Kay Gale University of Birmingham


This paper is a reflective account of conducting ethnographic research in training institutions for alternative and complementary medical (CAM) practitioners. In it the author (a) seeks to extend the methodological literature in embodied sociology through reflection on conducting research in this context and discussion of particular events and processes and (b) offers an example of her attempt to strike the fine balance between respect and integration of previous scholarly work and her own emerging academic voice, while trying to avoid a sterility in the delivery that would belie her attempts to undertake an embodied sociology. By concentrating on three cross-cutting and nonlinear aspects of the research process—motivation, immersion, and expression—she draws out the conceptual links between theory, praxis, and ethics in ethnographic research as well as shedding light on the direction that the study took and the claims to validity of her findings.

Author Biography

Nicola Kay Gale, University of Birmingham
Research Fellow in Medical Sociology, Primary Care Clinical Sciences, School of Health and Population Sciences