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Ethnography as empirical philosophy : studying Samsø’s renewable energy transition

Author: Irina Papazu
Publisher: London : SAGE Publications Ltd, 2019.
Series: SAGE Research Methods., Cases.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : English
Summary:
This case study is based on my methodological reflections during and after conducting ethnographic fieldwork on Samsø, Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island, for my doctoral thesis. Interested in how the citizens of Samsø managed to “renew” their island through the installation of new energy infrastructures and in how the island’s subsequent status as a globally renowned renewable energy transition role model was  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Case studies
Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Irina Papazu
ISBN: 9781526495532 1526495538
OCLC Number: 1096507240
Description: 1 online resource.
Series Title: SAGE Research Methods., Cases.
Responsibility: Irina Papazu.

Abstract:

This case study is based on my methodological reflections during and after conducting ethnographic fieldwork on Samsø, Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island, for my doctoral thesis. Interested in how the citizens of Samsø managed to “renew” their island through the installation of new energy infrastructures and in how the island’s subsequent status as a globally renowned renewable energy transition role model was managed, the fieldwork proved a continually evolving process of knowledge formation. In this case study, I discuss the process of knowledge production through a distinction between “traditional ethnography” and “ethnography as empirical philosophy.” The latter describes my ethnographic journey as characterized by relations of complicity with my research subjects, by difficulties with keeping the different stages of the research project separate (perhaps these distinctions were fragile constructs to begin with), and by the need for alternative evaluative criteria prioritizing surprise and flexibility over a rigorous and systematic research plan. Importantly, these seeming troubles of the research process, in an “empirical philosophy” perspective, become productive moments of knowledge formation where new insights are generated. As a pedagogical tool, the case highlights not only the challenges but also the benefits of working exploratively in such a way that the object of study is not fixated or narrowly defined but rather allowed to emerge and take different shapes in the course of the fieldwork process.

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