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Research Article  |   January 2003
Gazing Anew: The Shift From a Clinical Gaze to an Ethnographic Lens
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, Los Angeles, CA 90089; lawlor@usc.edu
Article Information
Special Section: Qualitative Research
Research Article   |   January 2003
Gazing Anew: The Shift From a Clinical Gaze to an Ethnographic Lens
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2003, Vol. 57, 29-39. doi:10.5014/ajot.57.1.29
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2003, Vol. 57, 29-39. doi:10.5014/ajot.57.1.29
Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to analyze ways of perceiving, knowing, and being with others while engaging in qualitative and ethnographic research. As occupational therapists acquire research expertise and embark on research trajectories, they bring their clinical legacy into the research arena. The ability to conduct qualitative and ethnographic projects may require a reconfiguration of the clinical gaze of occupational therapists. This transformation is complex and also involves acquiring and adopting a stance that alters relational and interpersonal processes and results in new ways of seeing and being. I draw upon experiences in training, mentoring, and supervising therapists who embark on ethnographic research, as well as my own research practices, to illustrate points of intersection and divergence between the clinical gaze and ethnographic lens. Artistic metaphors are also used to highlight aspects of the interactional and intersubjective processes intrinsic to ethnographic practices. I argue that ethnographers are continually evaluating and negotiating their stance in the field. The clinician who becomes an ethnographer faces unique challenges to his or her stance in the midst of moment to moment encounters as well as over time in the course of prolonged engagement.