This chapter discusses some methodological implications of a sociocultural developmental perspective of children’s disabilities, the implementation of the ethnographic research, and the first author’s reflections on her experiences collecting data on a culturally-sensitive topic. This chapter begins with a cultural analysis of Japanese policies relevant to the design and implementation of formal special education services for children with developmental disabilities. Then, the chapter describes the field research, conducted in 2009-2010. The first author conducted participant observation as a teaching assistant for children with developmental disabilities. Educators and parents participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews focusing on their socialization and educational beliefs and practices in relation to the new special education system. In-depth longitudinal study was conducted over two school years with three children as they transitioned into special education.
Keywords: ethnographic research, participant observation, culturally-sensitive approach, semi-structured individual interviews, researcher’s reflection on field work, disability study, reactive method of field entry, Japanese education
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