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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access June 3, 2019

Doing autoethnography of social robots: Ethnographic reflexivity in HRI

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Originating from anthropology, ethnographic reflexivity refers to ethnographers’ understanding and articulation of their own intervention to participants’ activities as innate study opportunities which affect quality of the ethnographic data. Despite of its methodological discordance with scientific methods which minimize researchers’ effects on the data, validity and effectiveness of reflexive ethnography have newly been claimed in technology studies. Inspired by the shift, I suggest potential ways of incorporating ethnographic reflexivity into studies of human-robot social interaction including ethnographic participant observation, collaborative autoethnography and hybrid autoethnography. I presume such approaches would facilitate roboticists’ access to human conditions where robots’ daily operation occurs. A primary aim here is to fill the field’s current methodological gap between needs for better-examining robots’ social functioning and a lack of insights from ethnography, prominent socio-technical methods. Supplementary goals are to yield a nuanced understanding of ethnography in HRI and to suggest embracement of reflexive ethnographies for future innovations.


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Received: 2018-09-05
Accepted: 2019-05-08
Published Online: 2019-06-03

© 2019 Bohkyung Chun, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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