Certainty in Uncertainty: Our Position on Culture, Focused Ethnography, and Researching Older People

Jesson V. Butcon, Engle Angela Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article discursively discusses our position on culture adopting a translational paradigm and on focused ethnography (FE) that helps us construct our evolving understanding of the older people, their illness experience, and dying and death. This work reveals our struggle to understand our position (philosophy) and our use of a methodology to inquire about a phenomenon that is plagued by ageism and the “one-size-fits-all” mentality in health care. We assert that these problems of ageism and standardization together ignore the contextual and cultural realities of older people’s experience in health and in dying situations. In our attempt to find the best fit between what we ask (research question) and how we answer (methodology) the question, we discovered with certainty that our own understanding of what counts as “cultural” and how FE will help us define such a culture is uncertain until we clarify our own ideological stance regarding the phenomenon in question.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2017


  • culture
  • ethnography
  • older people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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