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Development of a Subjectivity

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posted on 2013-03-12, 15:57 authored by Hugh Alexander David
This thesis presents an ethnographic account of an investigation into whether productivity is a useful concept in service sectors where quality is subjectively determined, in the context of how training and education can contribute to an organisation’s effectiveness. The ethnographic interest stems principally from the difficulties encountered in pursuing this research question. At an early stage, the researcher decided to identify the sectors of interest through quantitative analysis of economic data. This proved problematic as the analysis became involved and, though eventually published, would have been difficult to justify within the context of a social science thesis. Accordingly, the researcher switched to a means of identification based on the literature. However, the quantitative analysis had led him to take a fairly literal reading of the research question, and in the first interview this proved highly problematic, leading to significant interactional troubles. The interview did not ‘settle out’ in the researcher’s mind; as a result, the researcher used detailed textual analysis, particularly conversation analysis, to understand what in intersubjective terms had occurred during the interview. The impact of the interview on the researcher was sufficiently profound to change his emotional orientation towards the research question, and the researcher has detailed how his subjectivity has developed through the research process. This has led ultimately to the reflection that his approach had been perhaps too literal, too direct; and that a more circuitous approach might perhaps have yielded a less contested, richer and more extensive set of materials which might then have allowed the researcher to address the research question indirectly by using for example discourse analysis. It is perhaps the documentation of the trajectory towards this ultimate reflective realisation, and the conversation analysis (with accompanying self-commentary) of interactional trouble in a qualitative research interview, that form the contribution of this thesis.



Sung, Chi; James, Nalita

Date of award


Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DSocSci



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    University of Leicester Theses