‘I don’t know why I’m here’: From knot-working to not-knowing

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Purpose – This paper examines the idea of getting lost during field studies as a point of departure for reframing research questions.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents fieldnotes and reflections to illustrate the process of tracing innovation in the field by means of a theoretical concept – ‘knot-working’ as proposed by Engeström (2008). By paying attention to seemingly irrelevant empirical data and experiences of being lost, the author infused another theoretical concept – ‘not-knowing’ as proposed by Lather (2007).
Findings – By questioning research questions, it becomes possible to challenge conventional assumptions in the field under study as well as assumptions underlying existing theory. It is argued that good research questions evolve iteratively throughout a study and might be even more valuable than answers (Alvesson & Sandberg, 2013). The paper illustrates how not-knowing can serve as a methodological perspective from where ordinary held assumptions can be reconsidered, thus paving the way for novel research questions that can enhance established theory.
Originality/value – The paper reframes the research question: ‘How is the elder care sector affected by innovation imperatives’, and poses the reverse question: How are innovation imperatives affected -- or how could they be affected -- by the notion of care.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnnual of Organizational Ethnography
Publication date2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventAnnual University of Liverpool 8th Ethnography Symposium - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 28 Aug 201330 Aug 2013


ConferenceAnnual University of Liverpool 8th Ethnography Symposium

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