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Research Article  |   March 2001
Beyond the Unobtrusive Observer: Reflections on Researcher–Informant Relationships in Urban Ethnography
Author Affiliations
  • Mary C. Lawlor, ScD, OTR, FAOTA, is Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Southern California, 1540 Alcazar Street, CHP-133, Los Angeles, California 90033
  • Cheryl F. Mattingly, PhD, is Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and Department of Anthropology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Article Information
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Research Article   |   March 2001
Beyond the Unobtrusive Observer: Reflections on Researcher–Informant Relationships in Urban Ethnography
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March/April 2001, Vol. 55, 147-154. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.2.147
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March/April 2001, Vol. 55, 147-154. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.2.147
Abstract

Ethnographic research involves the creation and ongoing renegotiations of relationships between researchers and informants. Prolonged engagement contributes to the complexity as relationships deepen and shift over time and participants accumulate a substantial reservoir of shared experiences. Reflections about the relationships we have co-constructed with informants in several research projects have contributed to our identification of several critical aspects of building and maintaining researcher–informant relationships in cross-cultural research. Aspects of relationship work specifically related to conducting ethnography with children, within the communities in which researchers live, and within the practice of occupational therapy are discussed.