Working Paper 46

Messy Collaborations: Methodological Issues in Social Science Research for Fisheries Community Based Management

Melanie Wiber

Project Group Legal Pluralism

Year of publication

Number of pages

Working Paper 46

This paper discusses a significant ellipsis in the theory of fieldwork methodology, specifically, the agency of actors collaborating to build an iterative fieldwork process. It argues that what is especially absent is the role that our informants play in attracting and holding our attention through an ethnographic encounter. Further, there is little explicit theory that deals with the context of this important iterative process, which involves both the researcher and the researched, and which creates a common space for cooperation. The paper first traces the rapprochement experienced during recent research among fisher's groups in Scotia-Fundy, Canada. It recounts conversations between the researchers and fishers that track this process, and then explores the broader processes of self-representation involved. The paper next explores how these processes of representation draw on polarized political meanings and how various actors strategically use these to construct images of themselves and of other relevant actors. Finally, the paper suggests ways in which these processes can be better theorized and researched through the notion of 'field' as elaborated by Bourdieu.

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