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Past Event

On Embracing the Messy Methodology of Ethnographic Fieldwork with Older Adults

Ethnographic fieldwork employs a variety of strategies and techniques that attempt to bring to light a holistic view of complex human experiences as they unfold in the stream of everyday life. It typically entails a slow process of building relationships with a relatively small number of key interlocutors over time, accompanying them in day to day activities in order to better understand their perspectives and understandings of the world, rather than imposing a predetermined theoretical framework on them. Rather than seeking to control the environment and interactions in which data is collected, ethnography often works best when it embraces the unexpected, messy contradictions and uncertainties of life. Drawing on my experiences over four years of fieldwork research with older adults in Japan since 2005, this talk reflects on the unique insights about ageing that can arise through the process of ethnographic fieldwork, as well as its challenges and limitations. In doing so, I argue that our methodological approaches should be placed in constant dialogue with our research questions, and these in turn, can reveal the values that underlie our work with older adults.

About the Speaker

Dr Jason Danely, Oxford Brooks University

Dr. Jason Danely is a Reader in Anthropology and Chair of the Healthy Ageing & Care Research Innovation and Knowledge Exchange Network. His research expertise relates to cultural understandings and experiences of ageing and care in Japan, where he has at various times taught, studied, performed theatre, travelled, meditated and raised children, over the last twenty years. Jason completed his PhD in anthropology at the University of California, San Diego. Before joining Brookes in 2014, he held teaching posts in the USA at Rhode Island College and Grand Valley State University. He has also received Postdoctoral Fellowships from The Center on Age and Community (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Kyoto University). Jason has been invited to present his research on ageing to audiences around the world, including Japan, the USA, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Canada. Jason was President of the Association for Anthropology, Gerontology and the Life Course (2016-18) and Convenor/Founder of the EASA Age and Generations Network (2018-2020), the first scholarly network of Europe-based anthropologists researching aging. Jason is currently the Chair of the WAU/IUAES Scientific Commission on Aging and the Life Course.

Please note that this is a Hybrid event. We welcome colleagues to 66 Banbury Road or on line via Zoom:


This event is part of a seminar series:

Hilary 2023 Seminar Series: Methodological Advances in Social and Health Care Research

Convenors: Dr Yanan Zhang & Kenneth Howse 

Event Details

02 February 2023 14:00 - 15:00


Online & 66 Banbury Rd