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The purpose of this chapter is to advance a methodological framework for the study of open secrecy, the voluntary concealment of the nature of proceedings jointly performed by members of a social order with a vested interest in protecting the current state of affairs. It elaborates on the “rear-mirror methodology”, extending it to ethnographic inquiry. To cast aside the veil of collective secrecy, the chapter makes the case for a flexible approach to fieldwork, and recommends that researchers adopt the status of partial insider and the role of naïve newcomer; maintain rapport with, but also distance from, participants; and regard as meaningful the apparent incongruities between data generated through casual talk and data obtained via formal interviews.
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- Approaching Informality: Rear-Mirror Methodology and Ethnographic Inquiry
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