Throughout my ethnographic research I have asked a lot of questions of my research subjects much like everyone else. However, more recently, as I am nearing the end of my research process, the responses to my questions have become increasingly honest. This honesty most likely stems from my level of comfort with the people I am researching and their level of trust in me. Much like we discussed earlier I am encountering the situation in which I am researching people who have become my friends.
The positive that comes out of this is that I have incredible access to inside information. I can ask personal, difficult questions to reach very specific answers. I can also have faith that the answers I receive will be truthful. In the end, such a close relationship with the people I am researching gives me two kinds of information. The first type is very general and available for use in my writing. The second is too personal or polarizing to use.
At first I concluded that there is only a certain level, and a certain amount of information that is accessible for use in supporting your argument in a paper. Once you reach a certain intimacy the information becomes unusable. But after connecting my observations and interviews together I found something very different. The deepest level of knowledge I had achieved through the depth of my relationships with my research subjects actually shaped my views of the broader level of knowledge. In fact, this seemingly useless crop of information that couldn’t be referenced explicitly in writing actually improved the accuracy of my argument and my thinking on the topic.