The autoethnography essay is a type of autoethnographic research that focuses on self-reflection and personal experience to explore culture. This style of ethnographic writing has been around since the early 1990s, but it’s still not widely understood or even used by many researchers. In this blog post, we will discuss what autoethnography essays are and how they can be an effective way to write your ethnography.
This project is about my life during a period of time, which necessitates self-reflection and analysis of personal experiences that have formed me into the person I am today, as well as why I decided to go to university to study Health and Social Care. I’ve chosen three themes from my own life to discuss, including determinism, professionalism, and identity. Whether there’s a link between my narrative and the ideas I’ve chosen, I’ll consider these concepts.
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Growing up in one of Nottingham’s worst neighborhoods, the Meadows, whether it was due to gang violence, poverty, or substance abuse, eventually led me to study health and social care. There was a gang called the “Waterfront Gang” that wreaked havoc in the area. I suffered from discomfort and misery as a result of former friends who had died or been injured as a result of gang warfare or drug use. We were wary of rival gangs growing up in the Meadows.
I grew up in the Meadows and have chosen to live there as an adult, despite all of the difficulties I had as a youngster, because it is one of the most genuine communities I’ve ever seen.
Staying in the Meadows I have seen friends I attended school with get caught up in a vicious cycle of life, including drug addiction, violence, and suicide, which has inspired me to earn a degree in Health and Social Care. Currently, I work as a door supervisor because I enjoy my job and assisting individuals.
Working in the security sector, I’m frequently asked “why are you in a male-dominated position?” “Do you get treated differently than men with whom you work?” My response to their inquiries is always the same, even if I am treated differently it is not necessarily in a bad light; we’re like a family and the guys are fantastic and protective of me, which is great.
Despite my coworkers’ respect, I’ve noticed a problem among certain male customers: they’ll try to dance behind me or grab me in a crowded space to belittle me in front of their friends and disregard me because I am a female. However, rather of reacting to this conduct by ignoring it or becoming aggressive, I maintain a professional demeanor. It is in the workplace that I have come to realize the necessity of professionalism.
Professionalism is a topic that has intrigued me since I started working in the health care industry. After researching professionalism and understanding that there is no correct definition of the term “professionalism,” although it suggests that education plays a role in becoming a professional, I discovered that it was more of a judgment rather than a skill, as well as the fact that an organization’s commitment to providing staff with continuing training and motivating them to be professional at all times is essential.
It has been claimed that professionalism is the act of individuals or groups of people working in a certain field, such as social work, and that an appropriate education is required to become a social worker (Barnard, 2017) I’ve linked it to my story because you need to finish a course and exam to be able to get an SIA license as a door supervisor. You’re then working with a regulated body, which means you have restrictions on your job.
Working in the security sector necessitates that you wear a uniform and maintain a professional demeanor, no matter what the circumstances. I previously stated that guys frequently try to downplay or push themselves on me, yet this would be considered sexual assault and unlawful to others who don’t think it applies to me as “they’re having fun,” because they annoy me since you wouldn’t observe this conduct toward a male supervisor.
Even after this type of event occurs, I must remain calm and professional, even though I will explain that they sexually assaulted me. Some may laugh it off as a joke because I would want to hit their faces; however, doing so would be unprofessional and result in me having to meet with the SIA to discuss my conduct and outcome in losing my job and badge.
According to (Juliana Lightle, 2010), men were expected to be strong and go to work to assist women and children, which made women reliant and gave males a higher degree of power over time. However, as more women have entered the workforce and taken on traditionally male job roles, sexual harassment in the workplace has been opposed to the Equality Act (2010), affecting how men act towards women at work.
I’ve also learned that maintaining a calm demeanor is the better way to react to an emergency or chaotic situation. As a first-aider, I apply these skills when I come to the rescue of a child who has been stabbed in the Meadows. To be able to help him, I had to stay professional and use first aid. The event was frightening; as much as I wanted to scream and panic, I knew I needed to keep cool in order to assist him because I wouldn’t have been able on my own.
I have studied at university (Councl, 2015). If you are not a professional, the service user will be unable to trust or confide in you, thus preventing you from achieving the intended result for the client. Service users desire to be more educated and involved with the decisions about their care. Professor Haslam says that trust is difficult to win and must be earned again and again in order to safeguard it.
It is critical to try harder in order to improve, despite the fact that there are genuine obstacles due on bad publicity. (NICE, 2019) Professionalism also entails putting personal emotions aside in a situation and striving for the best possible result, especially in high-pressure situations. (Pamela J. Wilshere, 1997)
I’ve learned that determinism is a metaphysical concept that all events are caused by past events, but there are various types of determinisms, such as soft determinism and hard determinism. Determinists (B F SKINNER, 2000) argue that there is no such thing as free will because everything happens for a reason and one action leads to another, implying that you are unable to alter the path you have chosen.
Soft determinism holds that everything, from beginning to end, has been caused by something prior. Although there is a tie to responsibility and free will for such acts, soft determinism believes that all events, actions, and decisions have all been triggered by a previous occurrence. Hard deterministy includes two core assertions: determinism is true and free will is an illusion, therefore there is no such thing as free will (Double 1990)
Everything, according to Einstein, is determined, “the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. We all dance to a strange melody intoned in the distance by an unknown piper, whether human beings or vegetables or cosmic dust.” (Einstein 2019, p. 422)
When I think back on my life and experiences, I disagree with the idea of hard determinism because it implies that your road is pre-determined and there is no free will, but then I wouldn’t have been able to exercise free will and pick to return to school.
In conclusion, I believe in soft determinism because it implies that your route is chosen for you, yet it also emphasizes accountability and free will. Poverty is a major roadblock to opportunity and has an impact on what sorts of life options individuals are able to pursue. I believe that my journey was planned for me, but I had free will and could make my own decisions later in life, if I didn’t have it.
Even while I was compelled to do so as it was considered normal in the Meadows, I avoided using drugs and committing crime since that was what others expected of me. Before an accident prevented me from working for a time, I had worked in several careers with no qualifications after leaving school.
I’ve believed in my continuous growth since then, and it’s time for me to return to school and put that life behind me. I’m now enrolled in college studying for a bachelor’s degree. Sigmund Freud created a model with three components: the ID, EGO, and SUPEREGO. He thought that people have more than one personality characteristic. The Id is symbolized by the Id , which depicts its unconscious and impulsive nature. nThe biological elements of the Id are inherited, responding to instinctive urges.
The ego is based on the pleasure principle: “The ego is that component of the id which has been molded by external forces.” (Freud, 1923, p 25). The ego evolved to serve as a buffer between the illogical id and the outside world. It is personality’s decision-making element. In an ideal situation, the ego functions on a purpose basis, with the id being disorderly and capricious.
The ego is rational and realistic, while the id is the polar opposite. The ego can sometimes succumb to the id. The superego is made up of two systems: Conscience and the ideal self. The conscience may punish the ego by inducing feelings of guilt. If the ego gives in to demands from the id, for example, the superego may make him or her feel guilty.
The ego-ideal is a made-up picture of how you should be and includes work goals, how to deal with people, and how to act in society. When behavior falls short of the ideal self, the superego may punish you by making you feel guilty. The super-ego can praise us when we behave “correctly” by making oneself feel good (Freud, 1923)
I entirely agree with Freud when he said that identity was difficult for me, since growing up in the Meadows, I saw my family and friends live a negative lifestyle, such as taking drugs and turning to violence instead of calling the cops to resolve conflicts. But at the time , this was all I knew, so I grew up thinking it was the proper way of life. As I got older and witnessed more terrible things like death and murder happen to people I knew, it became clear to me that this was incorrect.
Choosing to attend university was difficult for me because I had no qualifications and needed to start from the bottom at college, which I struggled with basic subjects like mathematics and English, not to mention the NVQ Health and Social care, then moving on to do my access to social work. I thought about giving up so many times because the degree didn’t make sense; it felt as if I was trapped in a black hole that wouldn’t let me out.
But I was resolved to do better, and so I suffered the consequences of losing most of my friends and support system because they didn’t understand what it meant to break free from that cycle and desire more for yourself.
I lost my sense of self the day I decided to leave that life; nevertheless, because I felt I never deserved to be here, i’ve nearly given up a thousand times. After nearly making it through my second year at university and finally feeling like I belong, it feels as though I have discovered a new one. Because if it wasn’t for me reflecting on life and wanting to help people, I wouldn’t have gone to college, and I wouldn’t be university today.
By employing a number of theories that have been linked to my personal narrative, it is possible to draw certain connections among them; determinism, for example, though I do not subscribe to hard determinism. This is something (B F Skinner) suggested in the sense that there is no free will and it’s all an illusion.
I believe in soft determinism because I was able to decide to leave the life, and knew to seek a degree when my route was said to have been predetermined for me. This has allowed me to hold the belief that while determinism may be true, there is still some sort of evidence indicating that free will exists.
Knowing who you are is critical in health and social care since how will you assist others if you don’t know yourself. Although I acknowledged losing my identity when I departed my old life behind, and I was having trouble finding myself or fitting in to this new lifestyle, I still occasionally find it challenging, having this experience will help me understand what service users go through as a result of changes in their lives.
My third and last hypothesis was professionalism, which I understood came naturally to me since I’ve always worked since I was 15 years old. However, I do recognize that there is always room for improvement, and that I am ready to try new things outside of my comfort zones in order to enhance.
I now recognize that reflection is an essential function of a health and social care practitioner since it allows you to examine your prior experiences and gain an insight, as well as allowing us to share our knowledge with others so that we may take a step back and review these actions. I now realize that I’m not where I want to be, but I’m millions of miles away from where I started.
The technique of autoethnography is a method of study and writing that utilizes autobiographical personal narrative to provide a cultural accounting through elements such as tangible action, emotion, embodiment, self-consciousness, and introspection (Denzin 419). The methods by which ethnographers and anthropologists study humans are quite different. While the former approaches people using their own perspective, biases, and experiences, the latter utilizes fieldwork to talk with individuals in order to obtain their viewpoints and stories that are then analyzed for a deeper knowledge of their culture.
Apart from exposing personal experiences connected to a cultural account, participant observation allows for critical reflection on many cultural aspects commonly regarded as acceptable by the vast majority of practitioners in a particular field such as diagnostic procedures. Personal elements may provide important insight into topics that are often neglected in culture such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), sexuality, eating disorders, and others.The diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) may be accelerated by applying knowledge and day-to-day events to rational and logical reasoning regarding social changes required to challenge psychiatric coercion. Institutional Autoethnography entails employing Autoethnography and institutional ethnography in order to comprehend a specific issue.
This paper will continue to explore the analysis of OCD talk in terms of institutional Autoethnography, using feminist psychiatric experiences and method. This paper examines the use of madness and sense-making separately, as well as in the following context. The term “madness” is sometimes used to describe the “altered states of consciousness to different beliefs/feelings/needs/behaviors that are pathologized by psychiatry,” whereas “sense-making” refers to both available paradigms for rationalizing madness and alternative, self-determined ways of understanding and living with mental illness (Tam 2010).
Understanding of OCD discourse through institutional Autoethnography
Institutions are a type of governance that is based on institutional discourses and technologies. The activities of those who work in an institution are guided by institutionally established norms that tie them into the institution’s purpose. As a result, an institution is primarily about managing people via the institution’s discursively structured methods in its system.
We may examine how institutions function by bringing people together and including their organized experiences, which include real-world situations and their own viewpoints. The current section of this paper is a more personal reflection on Tam’s (2010) institutional Autoethnography that describes her personal encounters with mental illness, along with an examination of the performative aspects of OCD and her feminist standpoint in challenging the OCD discourse.
A person suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has an unquenchable fear of germs and fears washing, cleaning, or merely touching someone else. This individual may believe that he or she is dirty even while showering, bathing, or shaving. His anxiety about disease risks makes him feel unclean even while clean. Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects nearly 7% of the world’s population. The most common form is OCD in which individuals are compelled to do things in a certain manner that they consider abnormal (Brooks 2011).
We see the necessity for personality management for individuals suffering from OCD and pose a problem to existing perceptions of the OCD discourse by examining Tam’s personal experiences and techniques with the condition. From Tam’s encounters with OCD and how concerned professionals respond, one can get an understanding of the traumatic disease that is based largely on spoken interactions, since the illness hinders his or her social life (Brooks 2011).
Tam, who has suffered with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and is now a critical reflective practitioner of psychiatry, hopes that her autoethnographic stories may help to illuminate some of the performances that can be used to challenge the OCD discourse and enhance awareness of self-embodied performances.She began her project by conducting a meta-study to try and identify trends among researchers using autoethnographic research.
She also conducted a meta-study to examine the efficacy of recovery models for people with mental health conditions, as well as how they compare to each other in terms of effectiveness. Her presentation was based on the fact that during that time, there were few or no psychiatric survivors’ studies that seriously challenged the OCD discourse, but only alternative studies focused on new ways of understanding madness based on borderline personality disorder, depression, hearing voices, and schizophrenia (Tam 2010).
To defend her work, she believes that the proper description of this condition is at risk of being diluted or losing its context. Despite using a distinct method, she has chosen to incorporate works of other researchers in order to gain further insights and testimonies that may support her study.
The feminist component of her work stems from her use of a feminist viewpoint when it comes to socio-economic disparities, colonialism, racialization, and the position of disadvantaged women (mad) in society. These factors combine to produce materialism and economic facts from local to global levels; therefore personal experiences are critical in depicting global relationships (Tam 4).
She was able to explain her social and mental illness scenario, allowing for a deeper comprehension of her ideas in relation to social trends and events. Her position is generally in line with other feminist researchers who advocate for narratives of progressive ideas that connect surveillance of problems with gender-based distinctions in the public-private systems (Mohanram 38).
The way the class-based power and race relations are handled in the audio drama depicts how far we’ve come as a society since segregation and racism were institutionalized. These divisions further define the link between class and race, making it more tangible. She is not only trying to communicate her own experiences (sense-making) in a complicated system; she’s also attempting to expose truths (sense-making). To put it another way, these facts may offer knowledge and insight that can help bring about social change.
The overall aim of her presentation is to demonstrate how various institutions’ tactics have been standardized via the medicalization of particular habits and stress symptoms, despite alternative knowledge regarding embodied qualitative experiences that have been misinterpreted by OCD discourse (Tam 3). She is able to decry the fact that a significant amount of useful information that has not been institutionally tested is regularly discarded or treated as insignificant in the treatment of OCD patients.
Dr. Latimer’s work demonstrated that some of the downplayed features in OCD evaluations and treatment are as essential as the conventional procedures and observations. As a result, the OCD discussion is highly influenced by institutional coordination methods that detail how patients should be assessed, followed, and treated.
Even more, her work aims to establish the fact that the majority of key stakeholders in the body charged with responsibility for determining and changing OCD discourse do not have sufficient expertise. This is dramatically made apparent in the following statement: “That the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is written by a body of knowledge-makers who are not themselves situated as having lived experiences with the phenomena described demonstrates the disembodied (‘I’ -less) nature of such a text” (Tam 3).
To make sense of this situation, she is attempting to logically dispute the doctor-fabricated separations between OCD talk and real-life situations, which if appropriately utilized might assist in psychiatric assessments and OCD discourse. She goes on to say that many professional helpers are unable to comprehend OCD talk in a cultural context because of their lack of experience. As a result, her conclusion emphasizes the importance of institutions and professional experts utilizing and comprehending self-embodied communication methods in dealing with OCD patients rather than relying entirely on their established practices.