Doing Ethnographic Research in Chinese Families - Reflections on Methodological Concerns from Two Asian Cities

  • Esther Chor Leng Goh Deparment of Social Work, National University of Singapore
  • Kristina Göransson School of Social Work, Lund University, Sweden

Abstract

This paper compares and contrasts the ethnographic practices of two non-native researchers – a Singaporean researcher studying families in mainland China and a Swedish researcher studying Chinese families in Singapore. A novel conceptual frame of ‘radius of observation positions’ has been proposed to explicate the extent of intrusion and intimacy to which researchers may venture in the private family domain. The opportunities and challenges of two positions of observation within this radius are discussed. The choice of position is largely influenced by the interacting forces of the contextual and cultural factors as well as the personhood of the researcher. The authors call for special attention to cultural sensitivity in conducting Chinese family research. Families are embedded in culture, and the possibility of accessing family spaces hinges on one’s awareness of the intricacies of family cultures and realistic assessment of one’s strengths and limitations in handling complex family dynamics.

Author Biographies

Esther Chor Leng Goh, Deparment of Social Work, National University of Singapore
Degree: PhD Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, National University of Singapore
Kristina Göransson, School of Social Work, Lund University, Sweden
Degree: PhD (Social Anthropology) Position: Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Lund University
Published
2011-09-23
Section
Articles