Purpose – This paper reflects on the output of four ethnographic research projects examining the implementation of the Dutch Inspection for Work and Income. These four reports were to open up the “black box” concerning the everyday negotiations involved in implementation and particularly focused on the actual contribution of various participants to this process. Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents an analysis, a political re-reading of four reports, examining the underpinning questions and assumptions behind the work of the ethnographic research. Findings – The paper raises questions about the role of ethnographic researchers. It analyses, for instance, the ways in which researchers framed the “objects of concern” they investigated on behalf of the inspection and the political effects of their fieldwork choices, including the selection of their respondents and the ways they dealt with them throughout the research
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