Coming to terms with the missing pieces: toilet paper and ethnography in the neoliberal university

Wright, E.J. ORCID: 0000-0002-1774-4191, 2020. Coming to terms with the missing pieces: toilet paper and ethnography in the neoliberal university. Emotion, Space and Society, 35: 100689. ISSN 1755-4586

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This article contributes to the rethinking of failure within the neoliberal university, particularly in relation to ethnography. It is grounded in the ethnographic setting of a boxing club and focuses on one unusual dynamic of which I was aware during the research, but for which I could not – and still cannot – account for in theoretical terms. One or more members of the boxing club recurrently stole the toilet roll, and I have no idea why. This, however, also reflects a broader trend within the ethnographic genre: whilst toilets are used for cover by researchers, they are a space where the ethnographer's gaze fails. In turn, this reflects the social construction of defecation as moral failure. Similarly, failure - whilst routine - is individualised within the neoliberal academy. Accounting for dead ends and unknowns within research thereby becomes risky, and this actively discourages recognition of the complexities of life within ethnography. Writing ethnography which actively incorporates failures and unknowns would promote vitalism and would resist a neoliberal articulation of success.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Emotion, Space and Society
Creators: Wright, E.J.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: May 2020
Volume: 35
ISSN: 1755-4586
S1755458620300360Publisher Item Identifier
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 24 Jun 2020 14:04
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2021 03:00

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