The ethnographer and the paradox of emotional closeness. An autoethnography of shame in accounting research

This paper discusses the emotional intensity of ethnographic work in accounting research, emphasizing the immersive nature of this work within social groups. Ethnographers form genuine relationships but face a dilemma when using these connections for research purposes, potentially compromising their authenticity. The focus lies on emotions, particularly shame, experienced during and after fieldwork, influencing both researchers and participants. The paper advocates for acknowledging emotions in accounting ethnography, questioning existing standards and suggesting ways to manage and understand these intense feelings. The study employs emotional autoethnography to explore shame’s persistence and its impact, drawing on Hochschild’s emotional labor framework. It identifies shame related to instrumentalizing relationships and the conflict between emotional experiences and the field’s emphasis on emotional control. Reflexivity and voicing societal unfairness emerge as strategies to alleviate shame. The research contributes by empirically demonstrating how ethnographic labor can evoke shame and by advocating for emotional autoethnography as a method to recognize and address emotions’ impact on research. Ultimately, the study aims to influence the emotional landscape within the accounting research community.

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This paper is published in Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

Authors: Caecilia Drujon d’Astros, Camille Gaudy, Marianne Strauch

Caecilia Drujon d'Astros, assistant professor
Camille Gaudy, assistant professor
Marianne Strauch, Assistant professor

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