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Towards an Approach of Relational Educational Ethnography : Looking at Educational Ethnographic Writing Processes with a Relational Perspective

Title data

Vollmer, Maria Theresa:
Towards an Approach of Relational Educational Ethnography : Looking at Educational Ethnographic Writing Processes with a Relational Perspective.
Event: Re-Writing (against) Culture. Ethnographic writing in educational ethnography : practices, approaches, innovations, and positionings , 27.06.–29.6.2024 , Pädagogische Hochschule Zürich.
(Conference item: Conference , Speech )

Project information

Project financing: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
This project is part of the “Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung”, 01JA1901, a joint initiative of the Federal Government and the Länder which aims to improve the quality of teacher training. The programme has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Abstract in another language

In my dissertation on India’s participation in the OECD PISA 2009 Plus test, I did not aim at finding a thick description (Geertz, 2017) on why India decided to join OECD’s PISA test, but to find descriptions of the decision making process that highlight the relationality amongst different nodes of influence. The aim was to reconstruct and describe the process as culture-sensitive as possible. Hereby, stressing diversity, relationality, and the need of considering postcolonial theory perspectives (Vollmer, 2023, p. 95). The focus had been „to describe and to explain processes in relations” (Schmitt, 2017, p. 79; M.T.V.: translation). The idea has been to find as many sources of influence as possible as well as catching underlying meanings and dynamics expressed in stories by interviewed experts and as published in literature (Vollmer, 2023, p. 161).
The theoretical foundation of the thesis draws on network theory according to Harrison White (White, 2008). With White’s cultural turn in network research – that aims at considering the dimension of culture in network research – the aim is to not only link up nodes with edges, but rather to examine the underlying meanings of network relations. Using stories as a tool of analysis throws light on who or what takes part in the transmission process, and additionally how they are related to each other. This makes it possible to describe relationality not only as a connection between nodes. It informs us about the underlying meanings of these connections (Vollmer, 2023, p. 159).
However, telling stories does not happen in an empty space as the writer Elnathan John points out: „Language is not neutral. Language can damage as it can build. It carries baggage, historical, cultural, political” (John, 2020, p. 14). The challenge is therefore to tell stories courageously and freely, but to be sensitive for the baggage that comes with words and their meaning (Vollmer, 2023, p. 160).
This paper investigates the question on how one can further decolonise the processes of knowledge production, transmission and (re-)presentation? My approach is a combination of network theory (White, 2008), postcolonial theory perspectives (Bhabha, 2004), (Raina, 2016), and ethnographic research methods, informed by Ball (2016), Howard (2002), Desmond (2014), and Forsey (2008). The aim is to develop an approach of relational educational ethnography. This means applying a relational perspective in educational studies that draw on ethnographic research methods. This is fruitful not only for the study of global education policy mobilities but also for the study of other educational phenomena. It can be applied to the study of educational processes in schools. Aspects for discussion are: How is this approach sensitive to the dimension of spatiality in processes of knowledge production? How does one arrive at a balance between ethnographic interviewing and ethnographic writing? What has this approach to offer for the presentation and dissemination of findings? The research contributes to conduct educational ethnographical studies that are postcolonial-sensitive in their research design. Insights of the paper are of interest not only for educationists but also for a wider academic readership.

Further data

Item Type: Conference item (Speech)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Global education policy research; network theory; educational ethnography; postcolonial theory perspectives
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Chair General Education Science > Chair General Education Science- Univ.-Prof. Dr. Iris Clemens
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 300 Social sciences > 370 Education
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2024 10:18
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2024 10:18