Between the observer and the samba school's member: non-humans and transformations during a field study

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César Tureta
Rafael Alcadipani


This paper aims to discuss the boundaries between participant and non-participant observation in organizational ethnographic research. We argue that it is difficult to control such a distinction during an ongoing research process. To demonstrate this, we show how the researcher's participation in activities while gathering data may be inevitable and s/he can change from a mere observer to an active participant while in the field. To argue this, we take as an example one of the authors' fieldwork experience in an ethnographic study at a samba school in the city of Sao Paulo. Starting from a post-humanist perspective, which assumes that the social world is not limited to human interactions but coexists with the material elements, we also argue that the researcher, initially a non-participant observer, became a participant observer and an active member of the organization under study through the mediation of non-humans. We conclude that material elements have significant influence during fieldwork and can generate changes in: (a) research procedure, (b) data collection, and (c) how the researcher is perceived by research subjects. This conclusion indicates that management researchers should take the influence of these elements in the research into consideration.


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How to Cite
Tureta, C., & Alcadipani, R. (1). Between the observer and the samba school’s member: non-humans and transformations during a field study. Journal of Contemporary Administration, 15(2), 209-227.