The opportunities and challenges that younger, female, civilian researchers can encounter when undertaking ethnographic research with predominantly male military veterans are relatively underexplored sociologically. This is despite a growing literature on reflexivity in military studies over the past decade. To address this gap, we draw on symbolic interactionist insights to examine the reflective account of a British, female researcher in her mid-20s, who conducted qualitative research with 20 ‘older’ (aged 60+) retired servicemen from the Royal British Legion, a United Kingdom charity providing support for military veterans and their families. The study explored ex-servicemen’s embodied experiences of physical activity. The findings presented here cohere around four salient themes identified in the ethnographic reflections: (1) researcher positionality as a young, female, civilian researcher in a traditionally masculine militarised world; (2) managing distressing topics and interactional discomfort; (3) maintaining an ‘ethic of care’; and (4) dilemmas regarding representational issues and ex-servicemen’s embodied experiences.
University of Lincoln, College of Social Science
Rachel Katherine Williams, Canterbury Christ Church University, School of Human and Life Sciences
Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson, University of Lincoln School of Sport and Exercise Science
John Hockey, University of Gloucestershire, Academic Development Unit