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Literary ethnography of evidence-based healthcare: accessing the emotions of rational-technical discourse

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In this article I revisit the idea of literary ethnography (proposed by Van de Poel-Knottnerus and Knottnerus, 1994) as a method for investigating social phenomena constituted principally through literature. I report the use of this method to investigate the topic of evidence-based healthcare, EBHC. EBHC is a field of discourse much built upon a dichotomy between rationality and emotionality. In this context literary ethnography, a particular type of discourse analysis, is valuable for allowing researchers to bring the emotional currents of technical-rational discourse into conscious awareness. In such discourses, emotions are not written out by name. The researcher must discern emotional phenomena by experiencing the discourse, and (try to) bring them into intelligible expression. As I clarify this process I develop Van de Poel-Knottnerus and Knottnerus’ method theoretically, look to destabilise the rationalityemotionality dichotomy foundational to discourse around EBHC, and so transgress its conventional lines of thought.



Original languageEnglish
Article number16
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2016

    Research areas

  • Discourse analysis, EBHC, Emotion, Health, Literary ethnography, Methods

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