A Ethnographic Toolkit for Studying the Networking Pathways of Hard-to-Reach Populations: The Case of Cosmetic Surgery Consumers in South Korea

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This article develops a novel ethnographic toolkit for examining the networking pathways that hard-to-reach populations use to socially survive. The toolkit consists of two sampling strategies (snowball and purposive sampling) and three data collection practices (role shuttling, site shuttling, and autoethnography). This article illustrates the applications of the toolkit in an ethnography of South Korean cosmetic surgery clinics and digital forums from 2018 to 2019 by uncovering the role that furtive networks play in facilitating cosmetic surgery consumption. Longitudinal in nature, the toolkit excels in examining the network’s dynamism, informal hierarchy, and the meaning-making and networking pathways that allow members of a hard-to-reach population like cosmetic surgery consumers in South Korea to participate in stigmatized practices. In the hard-to-reach population of surgery enthusiasts, I find that surgery is purchased by consumers through persuasive reconstructions of the meanings of success, body, and self by an elusive network of clinicians, who are introduced by an ever-changing roster of past cosmetic surgery consumers perceived to be high-status.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Volume21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Keywords

  • autoethnography
  • community-based research
  • focused ethnography
  • micro-ethnography
  • netnography
  • observational research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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