Lomax, H. and Casey, N.
(1998) 'Recording Social Life: Reflexivity and Video Methodology'
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Received: 5/8/97 Accepted: 22/6/98 Published: 30/6/98
If we are to make an empirical case for the effects of recording on interaction, then we need to demonstrate an orientation by the participants themselves to the production of their action and activity to some aspect of the recording equipment. (Heath, 1986: p. 176)
'Right so how are you feeling then?' (S19)
'Right so how's everything going? (S2).
is evidence that she hears the midwife's utterance as closure. She takes a final step towards establishing an appropriate context for the visit (turning off the television) and then waits for the midwife to speak (pause between lines 124 and 125). The midwife's proceeding utterance:
marks the start of the business of the visit, constituting a summons for the client to talk on 'business'. In common with research on other health professionals (ten-Have, 1991; Robinson, 1987) our data reveals that midwives exercise the right to open the visit in this way, preferring a client response which co-operates in starting business (Lomax and Robinson, 1996).
S27 Video still
122 C Do you want that off is it better with that off?
Videoed S7 on the 7th March. This was the first in a series of three videos carried out on the same day. Present were 'Sarah' [midwife], 'Mary' [mother], 'Veronica' [student midwife], a friend of Mary's and the baby. Mary's husband was working in the shop at the front of the house and did not participate in the visit . I arrived after everyone else and was directed to the lounge by him. On entering I was surprised to find everyone eating cake and drinking tea. The atmosphere was very jolly and there was a lot of laughter. The initial impression was that this was more like a party than a visit by a midwife. It was the tenth day so Sarah was discharging Mary, although this did not happen until later in the visit. As I arrived Mary got up and fetched me tea and cake which she was quite insistent that I accept. They were talking about all sorts of things not immediately identifiable as 'midwifery' concerns such as Mary saying the cake was baked by a friend and that people were especially welcome when they brought food. The 'business of the visit' - examination of mother and baby and accompanying paper work - did not start until 5 - 10 minutes after I arrived. I found this really problematic because I wanted desperately to record the interaction but felt socially unable to. Reflecting on this experience, while outwardly I accepted the cake, thanking Mary profusely for it and behaving (I think!) as if the situation I found myself in was un-problematic, inwardly my head was whirling with ideas: What are the implications for my data and most of all for my methodology chapter? On the positive side - data collection is going well - participants seem very ready to accept me. On the negative side, the apparent socially inappropriateness of switching on my camera means that I am missing some really interesting data. For better or worse I decided to go with my 'gut instinct' and leave the camera in its case. My feelings that it was inappropriate to video at this juncture appear to be confirmed by the way in which the initiation of the 'midwifery' activity of the visit was organised. The start of the encounter proper was characterised by Sarah draining her tea, putting down her cup, and getting out the patient notes, actions which were accompanied by her physical transition from the settee to the floor. (S7, home visit, field note diary)
Once I had set up the camera I left the room and went downstairs.. After about 5-10 minutes Sarina (the midwife) shouted to me 'we've finished', a statement which I interpreted as a summons to switch of the video camera, which I did. Reviewing this experience in the context of both the events which occurred during the visit after the camera had been switched off and the consultations videoed so far, it is becoming apparent that there are certain activities which the midwives construe as 'midwifery' and that they perceive I will be interested in researching (the physical examination, bathing the baby, helping mum breast-feed) and others which, although observable in each of the visits I will not be interested in ('social' talk occurring at the beginning and end of a visit, making arrangements for a subsequent visit). On this occasion, it being difficult to explain in the context of the visit that in fact I was interested in interaction other than that around the physical examination of the mother and child, I went along with the assumption and switched off the camera. However, my feelings of disappointment (that this data was not being video taped) grew as Sarina discussed with Paula the arrangements for the following visit, an activity which to an outsider like myself clearly constituted a midwifery activity. (S12, home visit, field notes)
And the video transcript from the same visit:
her footsteps can be heard on the stairs during the client's utterance at lines nine to ten:
Video-taped my fifth home visit today...... Having already experimented already with several ways of managing my presence during videoing, decided to try and leave the setting using the same departure strategy as I had with S3. On that occasion I discovered inadvertently that once out of the immediate environment it is possible to become engrossed in conversation with others until almost the end of the visit. In this way I am able to avoid becoming involved with the visit itself. Did not go entirely to plan. Decided to 'leave' by going to the bathroom. Leaving was okay, didn't feel it necessary to say anything as Isobel (midwife) and Carol (mother) were deep in conversation and any explanation would have constituted an interruption to proceedings. However, when I got to the top - no bathroom !! Rather embarrassingly, I had to make my way back down the stairs (which were in the lounge) and interrupt them in order to offer an explanation for my actions (in fact neither Carol or Isobel asked me what I had been doing however I felt obliged to account for wandering uninvited around a relative stranger's house). In fact, after being told where the bathroom was I managed to engage the client's mum (who had been hanging out washing) in conversation - she seemed happy to talk at length about the birth of her grandchild. In this way I managed to remain outside the lounge where the majority of the visit took place and uninvolved in the interaction for the most part of the consultation. (S5, home visit, field notes)
S5 Video Still: Midwife and client gesturing to the back of the house.
an utterance which both accounts for her knowledge of the layout of the house and her ability therefore to offer directions. But, importantly, it also offers a justification for her giving such information when she, like the researcher, is a guest in the client's house. In addition, both participants deal positively with the interruption. Directions to the loo are given, the midwife responds 'yeah that's okay', both laugh and , most importantly, the client's account of her labour is resumed moments later prompted by the midwife in line 24:
S27: Midwife writing in the notes
an utterance which generates a sequence of talk extending over several conversational turns during which the client and herself talk on the topic of fish- keeping.
171 M Sorry it's a little bit lengthy with the paper work today
342 M pieces of paper everywhere
3 C Can we ur have the video off for this?
S12 Breast examination
1 M that's lovely your womb dear
9 M I'll stand in front of the camera
18 M Let's have a look I'll stand in front of the camera so that (no one) can see ahahaha
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