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Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2120
David Walters

October 23 2012 Field Research - terminology - most common in the field of anthropology - naturalism o observe people in small social settings over a small or large period of time. Researchers understand and interpret behaviours in cultures - no statistics, mathematics – field research is face to face social interactions with people in their home environment - it’s used when other methods are not practical - much less structured but no less rigorous than quantitative methods – social environment and interactions guide the study of the field research - textbook discusses in detail focus groups o takes place in small social setting with about 10 individuals over a 90 minute time period regarding attitude, certain products or services o field research is generally done by academics Ethnography - describing a culture and understanding another way of life from our own perspective (interpretive school) o symbolic interactionists use ethnography (connects to interpretive) o they argue the displays of behaviour do not give meaning – instead they try to figure out what is meant by the behaviour – rather then the behaviour itself o they examine the reality of the members - it’s a component of ethnomethodology o implies that our findings are the result of the method uses as from the social life or environment o embrace arguments that we are about the social life and environment itself - they also argue that social interaction is a process of reality construction - ethnography is a study of commonsense. Specialized and highly detailed analysis of micro situations (transcripts, conversations, videotape). Analyze behaviour, mannerism, language. - Outside of academia, we are all ethnomethodologists! (ex. creeping facebook pictures – understanding the picture) The Field Study - there are several steps (page 224 in textbook!) o begin with general topic (group) and not a specific hypothesis  go into field with blank slate – be a sponge – absorb everything you can about that group or setting!  Pick something fun and exciting (interesting or passionate)! o Researchers can be very involved or uninvolved in what they study - It’s small scale social research (the field study) - You can study a group, subculture, social setting o Police department, sports team, bar  You are following the same group of people over time  Either a) the same setting or b) the same individuals - Choose a group that you can gain access to o Barriers: (firefighters, police, construction sites). Rapport! Some people do not want to be studied (homeless, criminals, deviants). Access to the group - Gatekeeper o Need someone that will give you permission to study the group o Don’t necessarily need permission from everyone there – just the ‘head’ person - negotiate your role - build rapport (establish trust/confidence) - critical: it can be a challenge o if you can’t convince the gatekeeper, than you cannot study the group - promises o by challenging, you have to make promises o you’re probably going to want to publish your findings in peer- reviewed journals o often the gatekeeper will insist that you can study us, but before you submit that part to publication, I want to sign off on it. Informants - familiar, involved, available - establish a key informant o someone you can rely on more so than others o initially what will happen is you will be an outsider - initially, you’re an outsider. You can sense rapport when members warm up to you. Difficulties of maintaining relationships (pages 231-232) - you are always watching o if they don’t trust you, they will change behaviour “Know your role” - assuming your role: researcher must know how to dress, behave, act in the host environment. Avoid offending the group – make them feel comfortable o don’t overdo it in terms of patronizing them - “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” - “Rugby tour” o Walter’s qualitative study – deviant subculture of rugby This is critical - knowing your role: insider (being an insider allows you more access to the group) - this was a PhD course – he was not on the team o attachment to the group o emotional – objectivity is compromised. Can influence what you observe, and even decide to document – if you become attached to the group, you lose your neutrality - not knowing your role: outsider – disconnection - what researchers do is they go in as a team - so if your neutrality is compromised, you can send someone else in Data - what do the data look like? - The data is your field notes! - Observe and document pretty much everything you do or see (surrounds, smells, sights, sounds, etc.) - You can video and audio, diagram, calenderizing, etc. if they allow you to. - Transcribing is time consuming - Where do you take notes? Page 233-237 in textbook o Generally you need to take notes immediately outside the field o For the most part, you don’t want to get caught taking notes. You want to be an insider. It reminds them you are studying them and youre not one of them. - Accuracies depend on what is observed, remembered what they are told by the members (lie, deception, wrong informants) Interviewing - follow-up unstructured, non-directed interviews – valuable for picking up on
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