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On Not Talking to Strangers

Researching the Micro Worlds of Girls through Visual Auto-ethnographic Practices

Gerry Bloustien and Sarah Baker

Keywords: access; ethics; gender; pre-teen; teenage; social praxeology; visual ethnography

How can visual ethnography help us to understand the nature and the complexity of the (ethnic/gendered/classed) experience of growing up? Drawing on two ethnographic projects, we discuss the purposes and the difficulties of the particular methodology of auto-visual ethnography which we deployed. Our specific focus was the relation- shipand the tension between the representation and the individual everyday experiences. Through focusing upon the micro worlds of the young people themselves within their wider ‘parent’ cultures, their engagement with home, school, and outside leisure activities, were revealed to be strategically (if sometimes unconsciously) part of much larger overlapping social spheres and powerful cultural influ- ences. The pre-teenage and teenage female participants were invited to document any aspects of their worlds on cameras and video.

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