SOAN 2120 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Ethnography, Participant Observation

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Field research, participant observation, and ethnography are synonymous terms. We observe people in small social settings over a small or large period of time (about 25 people ideally, to ensure we can effectively observe everyone) Methodology does not involve statistics or mathematics. We use field research when quantitative methodologies are not appropriate or practical. Field research is much less structured in that the social environments and interactions are what guide the study. Involves face to face interactions with people in their own natural home environments. Involves taking people out of their home environment. Involves describing a culture and understanding their way of life. Symbolic interactionists are the theorists who are most likely to engage in this type of research. They argue that displays of behaviour do not convey meaning, it is the reasons why people do what they do. Tries to tap into the reality of the members.

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