Being nosey: the body as an effective but flawed tool for research

Christopher Matthews

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Within this chapter I use a collection of extended data excerpts from this study as the basis from which I will think through issues connected to my time in the field and embodied research more broadly. Although the collection of data necessarily involves the body to some degree, certain settings, methodologies and questions support the generation of a more obviously tangible and explicit form of researcher embodiment. Such social spaces often provide vivid and dramatic empirical case studies from which one might explore the places occupied by the bodies of researchers (de Garis, 2000). This ‘interrogation of situatedness’ (Woodward, 2008) enables the opportunities and biases embedded within the researcher biography, body and physical capabilities to be cast in sharper relief. Attempting to appreciate the body as an effective but flawed instrument for the collection of experiences, meanings and sensations enabled us to more adequately assess the validity of claims springing from embodied research. Specifically, within this chapter, I approach this in relation to an ethnographic engagement with ‘violence’ in the form of training and sparing in boxing. The bodily experience of conducting such research – of dealing out, and being the target of, largely mimetic (Maguire, 1992) but still often ‘brutal body contact’ (Smith, 1983) – encourages us to situate the possibilities and opportunities which can accompany embodied research while also maintaining a critical eye on the relational and contextual biases which are inherent characteristics of such work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching Embodied Sport: Exploring movement cultures
EditorsI. Wellard
Place of PublicationAbingdon, UK
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)1138793442
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2015

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Sport, Culture and Society


  • Ethnography
  • embodiment
  • violence
  • pleasure
  • heteronormative
  • involvement
  • detachment


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