Ethnography - University of Idaho

Ethnography - University of Idaho

ETHNOGRAPHY Ethno: people or folk; Graphy: describe something = Ethnography: describing and understanding another way of life from the native point of view (Neuman, 2007) Aim History Methodology Examples Strengths & Weaknesses Historical-Comparative Research What is an Ethnography?

It documents routine daily lives of people (Fetterman,1998) Explores a cultural group Lives with people, or spends a lot of time with them Has a guiding question that evolves during the study (Hall, 2003) Where is it Used? Cultural Anthropology

Sociology Business Organizational Psychology Aim of Ethnography Aim Unobtrusive Identifies geographical and temporal coordinates Makes visible lives of those not normally told (Williams, 2000) Tries to obtain insiders view of how a group

manages and organizes their time (Viller, 2004) Understands the point of view from inside the group (McCleverty, 1997) Aim To identify behavior patterns and anticipate; to make the reader understand the perspective of the native to the culture studied (Fetterman, 1998)

Understand context, complexity, and politics of social processes (Warren, 2004) History of Anthropology/Ethnography (USA) Morgan Lawyer and anthropologist In 1851 he published an ethnography about Indians in the USA. He didn't gather the information himselfwas a sofa

anthropologist History of Anthropology (United Kingdom) The first ethnographies in Britain were published in 18981899. They were built on field research like we know it today Malinowski Considered the father of modern anthropology Wrote numerous ethnographies that are well known still today

Sir Frazer about Malinowskis Methods in Argonauts of the Western Pacific. Malinowskis work was done under the best conditions and provided the best possible results at that time Good theoretical training Stayed with the Trobriands for a great time Lived as a native among natives Watched them daily at work and at play Had conversations with them in their own language Derived information from personal observation Statements directly by the

natives Characteristics of Malinowskis method (Malinowski, 1922) Malinowskis Methods I consider that only such ethnographic sources are of unquestionable scientific value, in which we can clearly draw the line between, on the one hand, the results of direct observations and of native statements and interpretations, and on the other hand, the inferences of the author, based on his

common sense and psychological insight (Malinowski, 1922, p. 3) Malinowski - Important for Ethnographic Work: Accurate information Complex information Observation Speaking the native language is important No contact with white people Seek information naturally, instead of having informants Should have a strong theoretical background Join yourself with the natives

Typical ways of thinking and feeling Use the native language as an instrument (Malinowski, 1922) Evans-Pritchards Methodology Malinowskis student Did research among the Azande 1926-1930 1930 published his ethnography Witchcraft, oracles, and magic among the Azande Used informants Native language Length of stay 1-2 years Get to know natives through the

children Live like the natives (EvansPritchard, 1988) 1950s-1980s: Ethnography as thick description (Clifford Geertz) Culture based Meaning oriented. Meaning is a set of culturally constructed and historically specific guides, frames, or models of and for human feeling, intention, and action (Ortner 1999: 137) Specific to time and place (i.e. cultural relativism) Opposed to power and politics. [C]ulture is not power, something to which social

events, behaviours, institutions, or processes can be causally attributed; it is a context, something within which they can be intelligiblythat is, thicklydescribed( Geertz 1973:14) Opposed to the thin description of post-positivism Attributes of Thick Description Hermeneutics Semiotics Data: our own constructions of other peoples constructions of what they and their compatriots are up to (Geertz 1973:9) Analysis: guessing at

meanings, assessing the guesses, and drawing explanatory conclusions for the better guesses (p. 20) Theory: a General Theory of Cultural Interpretation is not possible, but a cultural theory could be derived Generalization: not possible across cases but within cases Prediction: not prediction but anticipation From 1980s: Re-emergence of politics and power in cultural/historical analysis of social Phenomena (Edward Said and Michel Foucault)

Social phenomena as effects of external power structures (e.g. political and economic institutions at the national and international level) Influenced by the rise of new perspectives such as critical theory and neo-Marxist ideology Todays Ethnography: Holistic and Evolutionary in nature Characterised by a lack

of consensus Dissolving conceptual oppositions (Sahlins 1993) Departure from the approach of searching under the disturbed topsoil of modernity for the traces of a pristine and primitive existence (Sahlins 1993) Analysis of local situations with reference to relevant external institutional/political structures Eclecticism of

methodologies/ methods The Effects of Post-Modernism on Ethnography Postmodernist came into anthropology around 1980 Interpretation on interpretation on interpretation Reflexivity Power (Bowmann 1997, Layton 1997, Nugent 1996) Methodology

Outline of Process Identifying problem or topic of interest Fieldwork Data collection and analysis Participant Observation Individuals and groups Analysis Holistic Report (Fetterman, 1998) Methodology

Ethnographers Jargon Emic inside (Hall, 2003) Etic outside (Hall, 2003) Key informant / key actor individual of group who closely interacts with ethnographer (Fetterman, 1998) Culture - beliefs, values, behaviors of a cohesive people (Morse and Richards,

2002) Methodology Characteristics of Ethnographies Holistic Data collection and analysis occur together Data collection oscillates between individuals and groups (Fetterman, 1998)

Negotiate Access Methodology Fieldwork (Morse and Richards, 2002), (Fetterman, 1998) Stages Negotiating entry the Gatekeeper, Key Actors, Key Informants Introductory period routines, roles, relationships Participatory observation important! (Hall, 2003) Methodology

Fieldwork Methods Selection and sampling Participant observation Interviewing Autobiographical interviewing Questionnaires Projective techniques Participants classification Outcropping Existing documented information Proxemics and kinesics Folktales Notes, notes, notes!!! (Fetterman, 1998)

Methodology Analysis Evaluating relevance Looking for patterns Considering phenomena through the cultural perspective Thick description (Morse and Richards, 2002) Classifications, parameters, etic observations Maps, drawings,

charts (Fetterman, 1998) Methodology A few words on writing Writing must be good from the field notes to the final product Write for your audience Write for the objective to make the etic perspective see

the emic perspective Examples The National Park System Anthropology Background Embedding Cultural Anthropology in NPS Introduction of ERI (Ethnographic Resources Inventory) (Everett, 2006) Sense of Place By Keith Basso

AnarchoEnvironmentalism Study By Nicole Shepherd Gaining Access Advantages and Disadvantages Advantages: In-Depth understanding of a culture amongst a group of people (detailed and more likely valid interpretations) Gives a voice to a culture to express their views, which might not otherwise be heard Influential in creating an understanding among

outsiders Also may reveal embedded cultural values that were not obvious to the group Advantages and Disadvantages Disadvantages: Cumbersome and Timeconsuming, and can be expensive Possibility that researcher is changing the natural way a culture behaves by being present Not really able to generalize findings Inappropriate for analyzing complex environmental

problems whose causeeffect relationships are external to the place and time of study (e.g., climate change) Difficulty of reconciling constructive engagement with critical reflection Historical-Comparative Historical-Comparative Deals with countries and history Powerful tool for addressing big questions Switzerland and the U.S. have been compared in

terms of the use of democracy and womens right to vote Causes of Societal Revolutions: China, France and Russia Need to have a knowledge of the past or other cultures to fully understand H-C studies Historical-Comparative Organized along 3 dimensions: Focus on one nation, small set of nations, or many

nations Focus on single time period or across many years Focus analysis based on quantitative or qualitative Uses case-studies to elaborate historical processes and specify concrete historical details Researchers focus on culture Historical-Comparative Relies on indirect evidence Reconstructs what occurred

from the evidence Types of evidence: Primary: Archival data: found in museums, archives, libraries, private collections Secondary: What other historians have/are writing Running-Record: Documentaries maintained by private or non-profit orgs Recollections: Autobiographies, memoirs, oral histories toconnor/308/308lect09.htm

Historical-Comparative Strengths: Prevents heroworship Creates understanding among outsiders Raises concerns about old explanations and finds support for new ones that are context specific Weaknesses: Need to have a grasp of the past and about other cultures to be able to fully understand H-C studies

Reconstructs the past, may be inaccurate Any Questions?

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