A century of covert ethnography in Britain, c.1880 - c.1980.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The purpose of this thesis is to explore the history of covert ethnography in Britain between the 1880s and 1980. During this century, a range of academic and non-academic social researchers have used the method of covert ethnography. The starting point for this thesis is the observation that there is no adequate and sustained explanation of covert ethnography as a historical phenomenon. It is argued that the fragmented nature of the existing historiography precludes a full understanding of this important historical phenomenon. It is the intention of this thesis to bridge the gaps in the historiography, as it stands, and to promote an inclusive historical account of covert ethnography in Britain across time.
Through an analysis of covert ethnographic projects undertaken in Britain between the 1880s and 1980, with particular attention being paid to the structure and language used by covert ethnographers, this thesis will locate the use of this research method in its historical context. This thesis will chart the changes and continuities over time in the use of covert ethnography and demonstrate how key forces, such as the establishment of new models of ethnographic research and the development of ethical concern regarding covertness, shaped the use of covert ethnography significantly. This thesis will contribute a more comprehensive account of covert ethnography to the existing historiography.
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