On being a punk and a scholar: A reflexive account of researching a punk scene in Russia

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Ethnographic studies of youth subcultures, scenes and urban tribes often rely on insiders' accounts, where researchers investigate a social environment of which they are presently or formerly members. This approach raises important questions about the positionality of the researcher, and the reflexivity, epistemology and ethics of an ethnographic investigation, as different roles and engagement with the field, as well as the very identity of the 'field' itself, no longer fit into the methodological framework of traditional ethnography. This article explores the difficulties that arise during ethnographic research on one's own social world. I was actively involved in the Russian punk scene before pursuing my academic career in England, and in the framework of a research project on post-socialist punk at the University of Warwick, I went back to study this milieu as a 'field' in two different sites in 2009 and in 2010. The article shows the complexity of researching one's own subculture and demonstrates that active discentring of the 'knowing authority' in studying one's own 'tribe' necessarily involves a transformation of its main research paradigms, where epistemological and ethical issues appear to be rearranged in a new way which radically affects the methodological foundations of such an investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© (2014) SAGE Publications Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Ethnographic fieldwork
  • Insider
  • Knowledgeable authority
  • Post-socialist
  • Punk scene
  • Russia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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