Use of Ethnography as a Method in the Context of Adopting a Reflexive Approach: A Study of Boy Racer Culture

Karen Lumsden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The city of Aberdeen, Scotland, formed the setting for my doctoral study into boy racer culture and the societal reaction to the drivers on the part of the community, police, media, politicians and local authority, between 2005 and 2008. The research shed light on the hitherto unexplored world of boy racers. At that point, there was a scarcity of empirical studies into car cultures and automobility in sociology and criminology. My study explored the boy racer culture via ethnographic methods, which allowed an in-depth look at the everyday lives of its members, the reasons, feelings and justifications for their actions, and for their participation. Research also consisted of semi-structured interviews with drivers, and with police officers, politicians, journalists and local residents. Moreover, around 200 newspaper reports which focused on the boy racer culture were analysed. This specific case study examines the challenges faced by the researcher when adopting a reflexive approach in an ethnography of boy racers. I examine the relationship between reflexivity and ethnography and draw on my own experiences in the field, including gendered interactions, power relations, danger and emotional labour, in order to demonstrate the advantages of adopting a reflexive approach throughout the research process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication SAGE Research Methods Cases
Subtitle of host publicationPart 1
PublisherSAGE Publications Ltd
ISBN (Electronic)9781473946583
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Discipline: Criminology and Criminal Justice, Sociology


  • drivers
  • ethnographer
  • sexism
  • social class
  • subcultures


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