A method for capturing movement and touch-based interactions during ethnographic fieldwork

Clare Kell

Research output: Book/ReportOther reportpeer-review


This paper introduces a paper and pencil-based method for capturing naturally occurring interactions in ethnographic fieldwork notes where no electronic (audio / video) recording equipment can be used. The method was developed for a study exploring the practical accomplishment of hospital-based physiotherapy education. Physiotherapy is a movement and touch-based healthcare profession where students learn by shadowing and co-working with qualified therapists. To observe real time placement-based physiotherapy education it was important to capture the non-verbal and physical (contact and spatial), as well as the verbal elements of the observed interactions. The method is based on Laban-Bartenieff Movement Analysis and the work of Birdwhistell, Heath, and Goffman and captures the minutiae of some elements of participants’ interactional use of gaze and space. This paper describes the development of the method and illustrates its use in the context of hospital-based physiotherapy education.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCardiff, UK
PublisherCardiff School of Social Sciences
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameCardiff School of Social Sciences Working Paper Series
PublisherCardiff University


  • movement
  • touch
  • ethnography
  • practical accomplishment
  • physiotherapy


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