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Content analysis and ethnography

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Western University
Sociology 2206A/B
Georgios Fthenos

Field research & Ethnography Lecture #6.2 March 4, 2014 What is field research? • Field researchers study people in a location or setting • People who are studied in a field setting= members • Field researchers explore a wide variety of social settings- can study a wide range of issues • Obtrusive- expensive Ethnography • Similar to field research in many aspects • Field research combined with qualitative interviews • An approach to field research that emphasizes providing a very detailed description of a different description of a different culture from the viewpoint of an insider • Considered a methodology RATHER THAN a method • Naturalism- selecting a field site and gaining access to it - Establishing social relations • Level of involvement: (1) Complete observer- sit back and engage in field research ONLY - Drawback: less detailed observations - Participants less trusting (2) Semi- participant- maybe get involved in some activities, not a full member (3) Complete participant- fully participate in activities, 100% member - Need a gatekeeper - Establish more trust, members may be more open Overt observation • What? Out in the open research • Advantages: - People might approach you and want to participate in your study • Disadvantages: - People might want to drive you off because hey have something to hide (‘narc’situation- may think you are undercover, want to arrest them) - People might think you’re someone or something else (ex: standing on the corner of tenderloin- may think you are a prostitute) Covert Observation • UNDERCOVER • Advantages: - You get to see behavior that might otherwise be hidden to you as a researcher (‘ security guards hassling homeless people)’ • Disadvantages: - There are ethical issues around its use, is it fair to observe someone without their knowledge? (Public space vs. private space) Participant observation- synonymous to ethnography, although we consider ethnography to be a more inclusive term • With both, the researcher is immersed in a particular social setting for a long period of time, sometimes even years • Behavior is observed in an unstructured way, and often in depth, un
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