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Abstract

This paper reconsiders the issue of access to a field of study as a problem that fieldworkers have to solve they start data generation. Access problems, instead of being seen as a troublesome period for the fieldworker, are turned into an issue of constructing the research site and an object of study. By means of example from fieldwork carried out in two general practices, this paper argues that gaining access must be seen as a process of negotiation in which researchers deal with resistances made by the object of study. Drawing on recent insights from the fields of Social Anthropology and Studies of Science and Technology (STS) the paper agues that negotiations for access form one way in which the researcher and an object of study – in this case general practitioners and their electronic patient records - are ‘made available’ to each other. Fieldwork methods are apt as entry point for ‘making available’ an object of study, because they allow for negotiations in the field that enable the researcher to change pre-set ideas and research questions.

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