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The everyday world of bouncers: a rehabilitated role for covert ethnography

Calvey, David (2018) The everyday world of bouncers: a rehabilitated role for covert ethnography. Qualitative Research. pp. 1-16. ISSN 1468-7941

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Abstract

© 2018, The Author(s) 2018. The focus of this article is on the everyday world of bouncers in the night-time economy of Manchester, England. The structure of the article is to contextualise my covert passing in this demonized subculture followed by explorations of the everyday world of bouncers through the related concepts of door order and the bouncer self. A part of the article is an examination of the management of situated ‘ethical moments’ during the fieldwork and, more generally, critical reflections on emotionality, embodiment and risk-taking in ethnography. I also reflect on the retrospective and longitudinal nature of my fieldwork immersion, and both the data management challenges and possibilities this brings. Covert ethnography can be a creative part of the ethnographer’s tool kit and can provide an alternative perspective on subcultures, settings and organisations. By overly frowning upon the apparent ethical transgressions of covert research, we can stifle and censor the sociological imagination rather than enhance it. My call is for a rehabilitation of covert research.

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