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Standing at the crossroads: Four ways to the metaphor
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, EMM (Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Management). Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Center for Family Enterprise and Ownership.
2008 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Abstract [en]

In ethnography there is much focus on fieldwork and the process of writing it down, but less attention have been directed to the techniques of writing it up (Van Maanen, 2006a). In this paper I would like to leave the romantic (?) image of the lonely writer and instead notice the writer as a participant in context. This text is based on the assumption that the best way of working is to engage in presenting and interpreting our social reality based on pluralistic rather than homogeneous ideals. Van Maanen (1995) has been had a leading voice arguing against the homogenization towards an objectivistic approach in social sciences. In the classic book Tales of the Field, Van Maanen (1988) made the reader aware of how reality can be constructed in a variety of ways. The first step was to separate the fieldworker from fieldwork representa¬tions. This means that the researcher moves from being an objective observer of social reality to an active producer of how social reality is represented. The book also gave suggestions on how the writer could make choices in the construction of a text, as well as how the reader could approach a text considering the style. Fine and Martin (1995) demonstrated possibilities of humorous writing in ethnography by displaying how forms like sarcasm, satire and irony was used in Goffman’s texts. Within this style metaphors were used to transform the meaning of what was presented: “Goffman takes the mental hospital and turns it into a university, referring to the “campus” (p. 269) and “campus wheels” (p. 217).” (Fine and Martin, 1995, p. 181-182).

To this conference I would like to further explore metaphors as a means to build a research text. I will conceptualize four ways to use metaphors: metaphorical creation, metaphorical inspiration, metaphorical reproduction and metaphorical expression. Firstly, metaphorical creation is about highlighting how metaphors appear in theories or how theories are meta¬phors for what they are trying to explain. In this form, the metaphor has gained pseudo-literal status over time. Secondly, metaphorical inspiration is found when the metaphor is consciously used in the creative process to inspire to new insights during the research process. Since one of the basic characteristics of metaphor is that it can change the way we see things, it provides great opportunities to develop ideas and challenge existing beliefs. To talk about metaphorical reproduction is a third way to put focus on how metaphors appear in the empirical setting and how these metaphors can be interpreted and reproduced in a scientific setting. Finally, metaphorical expression, involves the process of writing up research in relation to a reader. Then the metaphor is returned from being a research tool to its original purpose: to be an illustrative device in a text. I end the paper with a summary of the pros and cons of the use of metaphors in social science.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. p. 13-
Keywords [en]
qualitative method writing it up
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-5727OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-5727DiVA, id: diva2:36547
Available from: 2008-06-13 Created: 2008-06-13Bibliographically approved

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