The Giving Caregivers: Resilience as a Double-Edged Sword in the Context of Healthcare

Juliana Saldarriaga speaking on stage at EPIC2022
JULIANA SALDARRIAGA A Piece of Pie In this paper we challenge an assumption about caregivers of chronic patients that we’ve repeatedly encountered in our ethnographic fieldwork: that of the inherently and permanently resilient caregiver, or a person that, driven by feelings of affection for the chronic patient, will remain strong regardless of the challenges posed by the healthcare system or the disease itself. We describe three deeply rooted beliefs that explain why this assumption is still widespread within healthcare systems: the belief in caregiving as female calling, or the fact that women are assumed to have not just a biological advantage, but an interest in caregiving, the belief in individuality, or the fact that individuals are thought to have a preexisting and inalterable identity, and the belief in the pathological origin of mental illness, or the fact that we tend to ignore structural causes and social determinants of mental and emotional distress. We provide theoretical and practical evidence to support each belief...

Against Resiliency: An Ethnographic Manifesto

Lauren Rhodes and Jillian Powers speaking together on stage at EPIC2022
LAUREN MONSEIN RHODES Cisco JILLIAN POWERS JP Morgan Chase Using ethnography as an analytic tool to examine the concept of resiliency, we call for a shift in our practice and praxis. Research subjects and ethnographic practitioners are tired of working against and thriving despite. We are tired of being seen as resilient in a world that demands so much from us and only values our contributions if they align with dominant views and world systems. We are tired of being relied upon to provide answers and solutions to the issues presented in front of us. In this manifesto, we demonstrate and argue that resilience, as a category of human agency, shifts responsibility to the person being resilient and away from the systemic problems that created the need to be resilient in the first place. By reifying resilience in our research and our findings, we celebrate survival despite the psychic and somatic labor and toll on resilient actors. As practitioners, we are drained by being and witnessing resilience. As ethnographers who work, we...

Putting the ‘Social’ Back in ‘Social Science’ Research

two silhouetted women talking in front of photographs of women, horse
By MIKKEL KRENCHEL, ReD Associates Three strategies for designing research that captures the social forces shaping people's behavior. Remember the days when a main challenge of the EPIC community was convincing executives that humans weren’t just rational actors all the time? Back when arguing for the value of ethnographic research, thick data, and so forth, started with getting executives to realize that there was more to people than what could be observed through a spreadsheet? Fortunately, those days are long gone. Today, most successful leaders of large corporations readily embrace the idea that humans are complex, emotional creatures and that the success of their business in large part rests on making the right bets on how they will behave. In response, research departments across the corporate world have grown exponentially in both size and sophistication, and ‘ethnographic research’ as a term has almost gone mainstream. It would be easy to conclude that it’s time to declare victory. But if you look a little closer...