CS235 Lecture Notes - Ethnography, Maasai Mara

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16 Apr 2013
What is ethnography and what are some examples of sites of study?
- The practice of spending a lengthy period of time living in the field; becoming
familiar with a culture, group; write a story about the people.
- Example: Sarah Thorton’s work on club cultures (attitudes and idea of the
youthful insiders whose social lives revolve around clubs and raves)
Why would one want to conduct ethnographic research?
- To get a better understanding of the workings of a particular group.
- It gives a voice to groups that may not have had one previously.
- There is the essence of the real and the authentic. In listening to and
describing what people do in their particular contexts then we are getting
closer to the truth than by analyzing texts.
How does one gather data through ethnographic research? How can the researcher
position him or herself?
- External (to the group) or Internal (participant)
- Participation and Observation
- What people say think about Sarah participating in raves
- What the researcher sees watching a tribal community in the Masai Mara
- Identity of research: Overt (open) and Covert (cover)
- Identity is known
- Identity is not known
What advantages and disadvantages are there between participating wholly in a
given culture or observing from the outside looking in?
Internal view
- Researchers gets to know the ins and outs of a given culture over
identification could occur whereby the researcher fails to critically analyze
their activities because he/she identifies with a group
- Researcher should be aware of the reactive effect that his or her presence
may have on people’s behaviour and seek to adopt an un-obtrusive role as far
as far as possible to avoid this
External View
- There are fields where your presence can go unnoticed thus an “accurate”
portrayal of a given culture can occur
- You are going to see things and you are not going to see things
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