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Ethnography and Participant Observation.docx

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Kevin Gosine

Ethnography and Participant Observation Cannibal Tours:  Relationship between the cultures  Europeans looked down on the natives  Ethnocentric  Ethnographers: did interviews, took notes by means of video  Should natives putting up a front, hid it when talking, but you could see what they thought of Europeans What is Ethnography?  Researcher immersed in a particular social setting for an extended period of time o Triangulation  Involves participant observation, interviews, and documentary methods  Learning about the culture, norms and values of a given social group o By throwing away what we think we know about a social group, and observing them on their terms and watching them first hand  Both method and the written product of the research What exactly do ethnographers do? 1. Observe ordinary events and everyday activities along with unusual occurrences in natural settings o Watching how social connections unfold, out of their own setting o Don’t tell people they are a researcher try to blend in with the group 2. Become directly involved with the people being studied; personally experiences process of daily social life in field setting 3. Employ a variety of techniques and social skills in a flexible manner as the situation dictates 4. Acquire an insider’s perspective while maintaining the analytic perspective or distance of an outsider 5. Notice both explicit and tacit aspects of culture 6. Observe ongoing social processes with minimal disruption or imposition 7. Generate rich data in the form of written notes and interview transcripts along with diagrams, maps, or pictures Steps in the ethnographic process:  Acquaint oneself with research literature on topic; defocus  Select field and gain access to it  Enter field and cultivate relationships with members  Adopt a social role, learn the ropes and establish rapport with members  Watch, listen, and collect quality data  Conduct field interviews with members  Begin to analyze data, generate, and evaluate working hypotheses; employ theoretical sampling (most common in ethnography) Sampling in Ethnography  Often a combination of purposive, convenience and snowball sampling  Researcher must obtain information from whoever is willing to divulge it  Not just people o Sampling time units (observing at different times) o Sampling contexts (observe in different locations) Theoretical Sampling  Glaser and Strauss (1967)  Probability sampling inappropriate for qualitative research  Ongoing process: collecting, coding, and analyzing data; deciding where to look next (purposive sampling) and developing grounded theory  Theoretical saturation point: o when themes/patterns are sufficiently dense (data largely repeats itself); no more data collection is needed Memoing in ethnographic research  Jot down notes as soon as possible after events  Write up full notes at the end of each day  Be vivid and clear – detailed descriptions  If possible, audiotape and transcribe interviews  Gradually narrow your focus  Types of field notes: o jo
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