Riding shotgun – Front-seat research and the socio-material considerations of ethnography on the move
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionQualitative Research. 2021, 0(0) . 10.1177/14687941211046530
In this article, we explore methodological considerations of using the car as space for ethnographic research on police work. With a socio-material perspective, we are concerned about how the car’s particular materiality and mobility shapes social interaction that takes place within it. We argue that this affects the researcher role, and that the researcher’s spatial position in the car affects the researcher role further. The position’s impact on interaction is made evident when the researcher is ‘riding shotgun’, rather than being placed in the back seat. We argue that this front-seat role comes with increased reciprocity towards the driver/officer, demanding a more (inter) active research practice. Hence, the riding shotgun position potentially increases the empirical input with the closer interaction between the researched and the researcher. More generally, the case illustrates the very delicate considerations of researcher positioning within ethnography on the move.