Researcher-participant positioning and the discursive work of categories: experiences from fieldwork in the mental health services

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    This paper reports on methodological experiences from an ethnographic study in
    psychiatric institutions in Denmark. Drawing on a poststructural framework and newer discussions within qualitative research that view methodological problems as sources of data, the paper analyzes how the challenges encountered in the fieldwork were indicative of discursive norms within the mental health services. It is argued that the multiple ways the researcher was positioned by participants revealed that the categories “patient” and “staff” were produced as polarized binaries with little leverage for negotiating positions in between. At the same time, it is shown that the patients find ways to resist the objectifying practices of the researcher as well as of the mental health services. The conclusions are discussed against recent attempts within the mental health services to promote a more patient-centered approach and involve patients in the treatment.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalQualitative studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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