Collective research, a shield against “ethnographical discomfort”? The case of a shared field survey in prison

By Jennifer Yeghicheyan, Alice Jaspart


This paper looks back at a collective research study conducted from 2014 until 2016. The aim is to assess the effects that the copresence of researchers have on the investigation. The notion of “ethnographical discomfort,” which refers to the researcher’s feelings of unease as well as the inconvenience caused to the observed field by his or her presence, will be used to address the question of whether sharing a field study “wards off” or, on the contrary, accentuates this discomfort. As the answer is complex, we will focus on three aspects of the presence of several researchers: the development of a collective place, the division of tasks between the researchers and the collective management of emotions during the survey.


  • collective ethnography
  • ethnographical discomfort
  • prison
  • reflexivity
  • copresence
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