Roles for Ethnographers
1. Complete participant (covert)
a. Participants don't know what you're doing and you fully participate in the 'group'.
Ex. Black Like Me
1. Participants-as-observer (overt)
a. Participants know what you're doing and you are participating in the 'group'. Ex.
Observing a book club meeting and participating in the meeting - read the book and
1. Observer as participant (overt)
a. Observing a book club meeting but no participation. You don't read the book.
1. Complete observer (covert)
a. Participants don't know what you are doing and you have no interaction with
them. Observing through a one-way glass
• Careful to determine whether you are having any interaction at all -> will be in the
observer as participant rather than complete observer
Find out how to hide yourself as a participant
o Are you having an interaction?
o Do others know what you are doing?
• If you were an observer as a participant in an ethnography, you would…
o Not interacting with participants in an overt role
• What pieces do you have?
• What do they tell you?
• Do you have enough pieces?
• Are you moving too fast?
• Are you too descriptive?
• Structure your next session in the environment
o Taking turns in this element -> with these field notes, should see some sort of
pattern or themes
• These are the beginnings of the analysis that begin to tell us something in
a preliminary kind of way
• What we need to say to ourselves is that there seems to be something
going on between whatever
Focus on people in the bar, or people in the centre, standing,
sitting, etc. Is something beginning to emerge as a pattern?
• Are people more likely to be standing? Talking? On cell
phones? Are they in small or large groups? What do they appear to
Next time you go in, see if there are similar kinds of patterns?
What it a one off kind of relationship that was seen?
Are you finding that you have enough pieces to make the
• Do you have a lot of information that when you review it, you have
enough information about it?
• How are we going to answer research questions based on field notes
• Sometimes we move too fast
• Make conclusions and make different conclusions
Fine line between going too fast or too slow
• Were you looking at the right things and incorporating the right things?
Analysis • Putting the pieces of the puzzle together
• Read over all of your field notes until comfortable - write Analysis memos
• Constant Comparative Method
o What is this piece
o What does it mean
o Are there other pieces like this
o What makes a piece different from B
Exerpts of Observations of conversations of an African American teenager
• I don't think that the ideal woman • Ideal woman
has to •
• look like anything personally. I • Importance of personality
think the I
• deal woman has personality and • Physical appearance is secondary
character, • Importance of personality
• it's how you act • Importance of personality
• My looks don't bother me, it's just
• Missing out on noticing
my personality • Self-esteem
• I wanna have a good personality • Wears what she wants
and • Don't care what others say
• have people like me, if they don't
like me for • Flaunting myself
• Internal self-assessment own
• My personality or