Ethnographic research among drinking youth cultures: Reflections from observing participants

Daniel Briggs, Ivan Gololobov, Aimar Ventsel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)


Increasingly, ethnographic methods in the social sciences are being robbed of their capacity to research problematic social groups given the increased “risk governance” to ethical and methodological practices. Positivism and constructing objective realities of these groups has become the order of the day, which has resulted in a ‘conceptual distance’ from these kinds of social groups. In this article, we advocate for a return to subjectivity using ethnography, and do so through highlighting examples from our experience from numerous projects undertaken with different youth cultures where alcohol is central to individual identities and collective social norms. We show, on the one hand, that this kind of research is possible but it requires the researcher to adopt versatility and fieldwork flexibility, while on the other, in some ways to abandon their ethical conceptions of what they are expected to objectively do and instead engage with the group under study. In the paper, we challenge various ethical and methodological dilemmas related to this kind of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-176
Number of pages20
JournalFolklore (Estonia)
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, FB and Media Group of Estonian Literary Museum. All rights reserved.


  • Epistemology
  • Ethnography
  • Observing participants
  • Positionality
  • Youth drinking culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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