ANT 1101 Lecture Notes - Thick Description, Essentialism

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Published on 3 Oct 2012
School
University of Ottawa
Department
Anthropology
Course
ANT 1101
Professor
Ethnography: Part 2
Ethnography
- A descriptive account of social life and culture in a particular social system
based on detailed observations of what people actually do
- Also a written document produced by an anthropologist from their
ethnographic research
“Thick Description”
- Explains not only behaviour but also its context and meaning
- Looking at the whole culture, and then deeper into the culture looking at
things such as laws and beliefs
- Example: winking and blinking same movement but the difference is the
wink is communicating something and is deliberately sending a message, and
if you didn’t know this culture code you wouldn’t know what was going on. A
blink is involuntary it means nothing because it is a natural action. A wink
has a purpose behind it, which is culturally bound.
Critics of Ethnography
Essentialism
- The belief that a society or culture has an underlying and UNCHANGING
‘essence’. Ignores the effect of outside influences (history, change,
globalization, etc.)
Subjective
- Open to interpretation of the researcher
Reflexive Ethnography
- Places the researcher in their own work so that the readers are frequently
aware that what they are reading are someone’s interpretations of a
particular time and a particular place
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Document Summary

A descriptive account of social life and culture in a particular social system based on detailed observations of what people actually do. Also a written document produced by an anthropologist from their ethnographic research. Explains not only behaviour but also its context and meaning. Looking at the whole culture, and then deeper into the culture looking at things such as laws and beliefs. Example: winking and blinking same movement but the difference is the wink is communicating something and is deliberately sending a message, and if you didn"t know this culture code you wouldn"t know what was going on. A blink is involuntary it means nothing because it is a natural action. A wink has a purpose behind it, which is culturally bound. The belief that a society or culture has an underlying and unchanging. Ignores the effect of outside influences (history, change, globalization, etc. )

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