Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Toilet Talk: The Subtle Art of Awkward Research


Cite this article:

“Toliet Talk: The Subtle Art of Awkward Research,” Annie Lambla & Camille Ronceray. 2023 EPIC Proceedings p 406, ISSN 1559-8918

Imagine you are dealing with bladder or bowel problems, and while sometimes your life is joyful, you also sometimes struggle so much you feel you have to hide from others. How likely are you to have a vulnerable conversation with a stranger through your bathroom door? At Coloplast, we really interview people while they sit on the toilet; there are some taboo topics we can’t avoid. Starting from how people “go to the bathroom,” our conversations expand into topics of their joys, hopes, and fears about life with intimate healthcare needs: e.g. ostomy care, urinary retention, bowel incontinence. In this PechaKucha, we will explore how “user” and “researcher” perspectives echo each other as they interact. We acknowledge the delicate nature of these sensitive conversations, and we respect the difficulty of embracing vulnerability. This talk is a reflection on embracing the awkwardness of social taboo, and share more publicly about a sector that is highly regulated, competitive, and private. We will take the audience on a journey, from avoiding social friction – because the topic is taboo and uncomfortable, to letting social friction arise, and finally, feeling liberated by it.

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