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Interpretive Autoethnography

Interpretive Autoethnography

Second Edition

November 2013 | 160 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Like all writing, biographies are interpretive. In Interpretive Autoethnography, Norman Denzin combines one of the oldest techniques in the social sciences with one of the newest. Bringing in elements of postmodernism and interpretive social science, he reexamines the biographical and autobiographical genres as methods for qualitative researchers. Grounded in theory and rigorous analysis, this accessible book points up the inherent weaknesses in traditional biographical forms and outlines a new way in which biographies should be conceptualized and shaped. The book provides a guide to the assumptions of the biographical method, to its key terms, and to the strategies for gathering and interpreting such materials. Denzin introduces the key concept of “epiphany,” or turning points in person’s lives. A final chapter returns to autoethnography’s primary purpose: to make sense of our fragmented lives.

1. Assumptions of the Method
2. A Clarification of Terms
3. Interpretive Guidelines
4. Selves, Stories, Experiences
5. Evaluating Performance Autoethnography
6. In Conclusion: Performing Lives

Although the book was very insightful, the content was too specialist. It would be ideal for PhD students or researchers doing this particular type of study.

Mr Alan Shaw
Business, Sheffield Hallam University
October 16, 2014

A useful introduction for a little used methodology.

Mrs Jayne Dalley-Hewer
Department of Applied Sciences and Rehabilitation, Coventry University
October 14, 2014

Will be an invaluable resource for any student wishing to adopt an autoethnographic approach in studying city life

Ms Maria Feeney
Social Sciences (Hamilton), University of the West of Scotland
August 26, 2014

An excellent text. I have found this very useful and will definitely be using it to inform my teaching content.

Mr Paul Muff
Division of Social Sciences and Criminal Justice, University of Bradford
August 15, 2014

This is a very useful book for those interested in developing their understanding of the many aspects of qualitative research. Even if autoethnography is not adopted, the reader will gain from a deeper understanding of where they might be positioned in their research.

Ms Jill Cochrane
Faculty of Education, Edge Hill University
August 6, 2014

This is an inspiring small text. Up-to-date, clearly written and bristling with more than enough signposted nuggets to tempt students and professionals to seriously consider an autoethnographic research option.

Mr Simon Blake
School of Business and Marketing, Univ. College Birmingham
July 9, 2014

This book is useful for postgraduate students who wish to explore novel methods in their research.

Dr Zrinka Mendas
Ashcroft Intl Bus Schl (Cambridge), Anglia Ruskin Univ.
July 2, 2014

This is a very easy book to read. Denzin's style isvery engaging and takes the reader with him, using a range of examples and clear definitions to support learning.

Dr Sally Boyle
School of Health Sciences, Brighton University
June 27, 2014

Definitely on my list of highly recommended approaches to research. Hardlyt considered in counselling psychology, this book is an absolute must for those wanting to explore and research the meaning they assign to their own experiences. It is a wonderful text, well written, easy to understand and leaves you wanting to go ahead and start auto-ethnogrpahic research!

Dr Lyndsey Moon
Department of Psychology, Roehampton Univ.
June 2, 2014

A concise but at the same time deep introduction to interpretive autoethnography, it provides a wide coverage that cross-disciplinary boundaries. This is undoubtedly a text for advanced students.

Dr Mansour Pourmehdi
Department of Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University
May 22, 2014
Key features


  • Draws on the last two decades’ astounding proliferation of interpretive (auto)biographical methods, including the work of Maclure, St. Pierre, Lather, and others
  • Includes an all-new chapter on Performance Ethnography
  • Expands coverage of recent work that has grown out of the “biographical impulse”
  • Includes criticisms of biographical/autobiographical approaches
  • Adds coverage of ethics, as well as voice, reflexivity, arts-based inquiry, and representation of historical voices/texts


  • Skillfully lays out the key assumptions, terms, guidelines, and parameters of autoethnography
  • Provides a brief yet comprehensive guide to using and studying personal experience and the dilemmas and political implications of textualizing a life
  • Combines critical analysis and methodological applications
  • Offers examples with analyses that clearly illustrate the book’s theories, concepts, and guidelines

For instructors

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