Drawing on a recent field study in a secure care institution for young offenders, this article analyses how an apparent failure to obtain data was based on pre-established ideals of what ethnographic data are. Despite much recent constructionist ethnographic literature explicitly dealing with the role of the researcher in data collection, little focus is given to how data are constructed in the research process. I thus started my study with ideals of obtaining rich data in the form of extensive written documentation. Shifting my focus to field interaction and relational experiences rather than the actual written documentation created an understanding of data as situational and relationally constructed. While this new understanding of what data are made possible analyses uncovering why certain meaning structures appear, it also revealed non-verbal experiences as valuable data.
Qualitative Research, 2014, Vol 14, Issue 6, p. 729-744
Faculty of Social Sciences; confinement; constructionist research; ethnographic data; relational sociology; research with children and young people