Rhetorical Ethnography and the Virtue of Vulnerability in Transdisciplinary Research Methods



This paper considers some of the ways ethnography has been adopted in transdisciplinary rhetoric and also considers theoretical questions internal to rhetorical ethnography that can help transdisciplinary scholars navigate limitations and potential liabilities inherent in transdisciplinary work. I seek to more carefully consider transdisciplinary features of rhetoric though ethnographic study which, in its position as studying cultures both familiar and foreign to the researcher, mirror many of the disciplinary relations expressed in Marilyn Stember’s topology of disciplinarity. Noting that transdisciplinary rhetoricians engage with scholarship by experts in other fields, an ethnographic approach to transdisciplinary rhetoric recognizes that disciplinary experts might have expert knowledge that they struggle to communicate to non-experts, and rhetoricians should tread carefully in offering solutions to these communicative difficulties. I suggest rhetorical vulnerability and self-awareness expressed through standpoint as two strategies scholars of transdisciplinary rhetoric can use to adopt stances of transparent subjectivity rather than feigning scientific objectivity.

Keywords: ethnography, disciplinarity, rhetorical vulnerability, standpoint, bias, methodology

How to Cite: Murphy, R. M. (2022) “Rhetorical Ethnography and the Virtue of Vulnerability in Transdisciplinary Research Methods”, Poroi. 17(1). doi: