Fuck, fuck, fuck: Reflexivity and fidelity in reporting swearwords in management research
In this essay, I confront a problem I encountered at a recent academic conference wherein the words and sentiments of research respondents were unfortunately and unnecessarily silenced and edited – perhaps due to presenters’ unfortunate and needless regard for the supposed impropriety of the respondents’ language. I argue that such silencing and editing is not only unfaithful to our respondents; it is also unfaithful to our project as social scientists. I briefly review some of the literature on qualitative interviewing and the importance of positionality, relationality and reflexivity between the interviewer and the participant. I apply some of these prescriptions to the reporting of data in presentations and manuscripts. I then point out some examples of how rude or swearwords have been appropriately used in management and other journals and end with a plea that we remain true to the language and settings that are so important for our understanding of social and organizational life.
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