Research seminar: Caught Between the Self and the Other - An autoethnographic reflection on accountability of the self in a homeless charity

EADA Business School
Aula 41 and Online
David Yates

For any inquiry please write to



Introduction - The aim of this chapter is to discuss the accountability implications and the impact on notions of ‘the self’ when undertaking voluntary activity. Specifically, within this context, the voluntary activity involved engaging in social interaction with homeless individuals. When relying on sensory means of judgement and reason, it is easy to separate oneself from others via judgments based on appearance, lifestyle, wealth, and other means. These differences are magnified by the difference in circumstances between the volunteers in question and their homeless beneficiaries. At the same time, coming ‘close’ to others in the volunteering act has the potential to invoke different emotions and notions of responsibility towards another human, animal or ‘other’. Therefore, this piece of research seeks to explore these tensions and resultant emotions within the context of ‘feeling’ accountability.
Theoretical Framing - We consider the possibility of selfhood while acting for the other in a theoretical framework based on the theorisation of the hermeneutic self through Paul Ricoeur. This contrasting of somewhat extreme notions of selfhood through Heidegger, and contrasting notions of exteriority and infinite responsibility (Levinas 1969, 1991) allows for a middle-ground to be occupied within the context of formation and maintenance of selfhood and associated notions of accountability.
Method - Autoethnographic diary entries taken over approximately a twelve-month period plus interview data allows for the consideration of these different perspectives on accountability in both the interviewees and the researcher.
Reflections - So far within this research in deploying it for another project, we have observed both perspectives on accountability come to the surface through the data. Some reflections have been on the separation of beneficiaries (homeless individuals) and volunteers, with some interviewees expressing that ‘they’ are beyond help. Other perspectives have focussed on the Other, offering a spiritual outlet for some volunteers, and the chance to experience something that exits outside of the rat-race of everyday life, yet is indefinable. It is our plan to explore and describe these conflicting notions with respect to the accountability, responsibility and identity felt by one of the researchers.



Dr David Yates is currently a lecturer in accounting at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. He previously held a lecturer position at Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom from 2018 to 2021. David was educated at the University of Wales Aberystwyth, studying for both his Bachelor’s and Masters degrees from 2005 to 2010. He also worked gained valuable experience as a teaching fellow in accounting. David completed his PhD entitled ‘the role, status and accountability of UK service clubs: an exploratory study’ at Aston University in 2019, under the supervision of Professor Alan Lowe (RMIT), Professor Ataur Belal (Sheffield) and Dr Florian Gebreiter (Birmingham). Prior to this, David held a number of roles within the finance sector, including working for household name companies such as the 4U Group and New Look Retailers. David’s research interests lie within the field of accountability, particularly at the individual and small-group level. He has published in internationally recognised journals such as Accounting, Auditing and Accountability journal, Financial Accountability and Management, and Accounting Forum. He carries a side interest in the pedagogical research surrounding games and simulations in education, and has published a number of book chapters on this subject.