The Pop-up Ethnographer: Roles of the Researcher in Temporary Spaces

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As our lived reality becomes ever more mobile and networked, society and business has adopted cultures and practices to embrace the creation of temporary interstitial ‘pop-up’ environments. These spaces, which can take the form of work environments (e.g. the UK Innovation Charity Nesta’s ‘Productive Coffee Breaks’), training (e.g. workshops), knowledge exchange (e.g. sandpits, culture hacks), and social environments (e.g. festivals), require us to examine the role of the temporal ethnographer. Our paper explores the changing and challenging roles that researchers must adopt and move between (from organizer, facilitator, participant, observer, and analyst) by examining four empirical case studies in a range of research contexts. Furthermore, we consider how short-term studies in such temporary, ‘pop-up’ environments can contribute to and be enriched by ethnographic practices.

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