Autoethnography as a Phenomenological Tool: Connecting the Personal to the Cultural

  • Jayne PitardEmail author
Reference work entry


Autoethnography retrospectively and selectively writes about experiences that have their basis in, or are made possible by, being part of a culture and/or owning a specific cultural identity. Telling about the experience though must be accompanied by a critical reflection of the lived experience in order to conform to social science publishing conventions (Ellis et al., Forum Qualitat Social Res 12, 2001). In researching my role as the teacher of a group of vocational education professionals from Timor-Leste, I conducted a phenomenological study using autoethnography to portray the existential shifts in my cultural understanding. I used vignettes to firstly place me within the social context, and then to explore my positionality as a researcher, carefully monitoring the impact of my biases, beliefs, and personal experiences on the teacher–student relationship. Initially, I lacked structure in my vignettes, and found it difficult to maintain a format which would guide the reader through my developing cultural awareness. In searching for analytical and representational strategies that would enable me to increase self-reflexivity and honor my commitment to the actual, I used vignettes to describe (show) moments of cultural existential crises, and then explore my experiences by reflecting on the reactions I had, and the actions I subsequently took, in dealing with these crises (telling). My structured vignette analysis framework helped me to reveal layers of awareness that might otherwise remain experienced but concealed, and to take the reader on a collaborative journey of cultural discovery. In this chapter, I present to you my framework as used in a cross-cultural setting.


Autoethnography Vignettes Phenomenology Cultural understanding Structured vignette analysis 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Arts and EducationVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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