Article : Beyond the observer’s paradox: the audio-recorder as a resource for the display of identity
Cynthia Gordon. Beyond the observer’s paradox: the audio-recorder as a resource for the display of identity. Qualitative Research June 2013 vol. 13 no. 3 299-317. http://qrj.sagepub.com/content/13/3/299.abstract?etoc
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Instead of viewing the ‘observer’s paradox’ or the presence of ‘tape-affected speech’ as a methodological problem that spoils ‘natural’ data, in this article, I advocate exploring the opportunities that a recorder offers to research study participants, and the insights tape-affected speech gives to researchers. In my discourse analysis of the week-long self-audio-recorded discourse of members of four American families, I draw on the notions of ‘frame’ and ‘footing’ to uncover the various ways the recorder is conceptualized and oriented to in interaction—as an object and a person, and in literal and playful ways—and demonstrate how participants use the recorder as a resource for identity work in interaction. Analysis reveals how recording shapes the interactions that constitute ‘data’ and how study participants manipulate the presence of the recorder to display identities.