Ethnographic strategies for making the familiar strange: Struggling with "distance" and "immersion" among Moroccan students

Frans Kamsteeg, Sierk Ybema en Machteld de Jong
Soort object
Ethnographic fieldwork is a balancing act between distancing and immersing. Fieldworkers need to come close to meaningfully grasp the sense-making efforts of the researched. In methodological textbooks on ethnography, immersion tends to be emphasized at the expense of its counterpart. In fact, ‘distancing’ is often ignored as a central tenet of good ethnographic conduct. In this article we redirect attention away from familiarization and towards ‘defamiliarization’ by suggesting six estrangement strategies (three theoretical and three methodological) that allow the researcher to develop a more detached viewpoint from which to interpret data. We demonstrate the workings of these strategies by giving illustrations from Machteld de Jong’s field- and text-work, conducted among Moroccan-Dutch students in an institution of higher vocational education.