“Ethnographic field research involves the study of
cultures, organizations, and society, by observing
groups and people as they go about their everyday lives.” Ethnographers do this by going out and “getting close” to the participants for prolonged periods of time in their natural setting. Emerson et al. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, p.1
Ethnography moves from the specific to the general. (inductive) Practice of providing ethnographic reports through a thick description--- notes that exhibit depth and complexity. As Neuman noted, an event could take 3 minutes, but require many pages of descriptive narrative. Usually, you do go in with intention, a research question, and a focus. However, dependent upon your paradigm, you may or may not share your research with your subjects and you may never use your work for anything other than academic pursuits. It can be quantitative or qualitative, regardless, typical steps involve:
first becoming informed about your topic (you may or may not be familiar with the setting or people in a first hand way), gaining entry into the group of people you want to study (issues of authenticity and authority in conducting ethnographic research), take field notes in regular and systematic ways to accumulate a written record of the observations and/or experiences
(see reverse side of this handout for an example).
These notes should emphasize concrete, detailed, and textured descriptions that “show” rather than “tell” through opinion. make connections and abstractions about what you observe
generate theoretical ideas through indexing,
interpret and report findings in an ethnography.
Potential problem: Rubbing shoulders with study participants/participant observation”=Danger: “Going native”-- Comes from anthropology and sociology.
Immersion vs. Merging. Balance of “reflexivity” when understanding that
the worlds being studied are meaning systems of...
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