Title

The Digital Wayfarer: Evocative Ethnography As Performance

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-1-2018

Published In

Qualitative Psychology

Abstract

The present offering grows first from the seeds of widespread discussion across the disciplines on the potential of description and explanation to map, picture, or otherwise correspond to its subject matter. As such discussion makes apparent, representations of the world—in both science and daily life—are social creations employed by people in the service of achieving particular ends. Concerns with transcendental truth are replaced by a reflective pragmatism. Such a conclusion invites a radical expansion in the forms of representation employed by social scientists in pursuing and communicating their work. The present offering explores the potentials of evocative ethnography, that is, ethnography that does not attempt to circumscribe or constrain understanding of the subject matter but instead employs forms of discourse that evoke multiple images, ideas, memories, and emotions. To enhance the impact of the text, I employ video performance. The attempt, then, is to use evocative performance to stimulate reflection on current cultural conditions. My concern in this case is with cultural transformations resulting from our ever-increasing dependency on digital technology, with a more specific focus on the psychological ramifications of our increasing immersion in the global flow of information, images, and reflections. A discussion of the implications of digital immersion for psychological inquiry concludes the piece. Concerns with historical contingency, the concept of the person, and the aims of research are considered.

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