Boundaries as thinking tools for crafting organizational ethnography

Giuseppe Scaratti, Elisa Giulia Liberati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


In recent years, the notion of boundary has been at the center of significant social science debates. The present article draws on this scholarship and discusses the potentialities of the boundary as a «thinking tool» for crafting organizational ethnography. We describe two functions of boundaries, each of which is associated with a metaphor. As a lens, the boundary sheds light on how participants interpret, shape, and negotiate mutual relationships. As a compass, the boundary guides ethnographers to gainig awareness of their position in the field and of the effects of such positioning on research identities and processes. Our main argument is that boundaries as thinking tools allow a critical perspective in data collection and analysis, shed light on the co-constructed nature of those data, and guide reflexive writing capable of conveying participants' points of view without excluding the author's voice. To discuss our proposal, we present data from a hospital ethnography.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-146
Number of pages24
JournalEtnografia e ricerca qualitativa
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Bounderies
  • ethnogrphy


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