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Chapter 12-15

ANTHROP 3P03 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12-15: Alice Goffman, Ethnography, Participant Observation

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Ellen Badone

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Chapters 12, 13, 14, and 15 in Ethnographic Essentials
Chapter twelve deals with how a researcher should sort their ethnographic data in order to
begin writing the ethnography. The author, states that the researcher should sort their data by key
themes, questions, moments, and experiences. This allows the reader to be drawn into the world
described by the ethnographer. Certain moments can be extremely important in an ethnography
as it supports the hypothesis, and brings the ethnography to life. According to Murchison, the
next step is to coding, or establishing which parts of the ethnography are associated with which
themes. The process of creating an ethnography could be complicated by contradictory data
either from interviews or participant observation, or even both. Yet, ethnographic data, while
contradictory provides insights into occurring variety, which may add another dimension to
one’s ethnography. The author included a case study of traditional healing and witchcraft in
Tanzania, in which a contradiction occurred in the ethnographic research.
Chapter thirteen deals with creating models or frameworks to identify connections
between the different parts of ethnographic research, and determing which pieces of data are
more useful for which questions. The author also explains that the research, including both
interviews and participant observations, can be applied to a greater extent and a larger variety of
problems. It is interesting that Murchison chose to mention three different ethnographies to prove
his point that a variety of ethnographies can still offer contributions despite overlooking theory
and abstract significance of the ethnography.
Chapter fourteen focuses on how to decide on a relevant and compelling manner of
presentation for the ethnographic data. This is mainly done to reach a certain audience, and to fit
the framework of the data as well as the hypothesis. In doing this, the researcher must also
choose an appropriate manner of writing in terms of tone, as well as deciding when to write
formally versus informally. During this process the informants must be protected by the
ethnographer, as mentioned in earlier chapters. The author mentions how the major way of
protecting informants is through changing pseudonyms and changing location names.
The final chapter shows how ethnographies are put together and deals with maps and
charts talked about in chapters eight and nine. The chapter begins by stating the two main models
that are used for ethnographies; the best template is the hourglass shape, while ethnographers
tend to follow an alternative model. The hourglass shape model begins with literature review, to
create some form of framework for the ethnography, which is followed by the interviews and
participant observation. In an alternative model, the ethnography usually begins with a narrative
to grasp the attention of the reader, while using a more casual tone. During the writing of the
ethnography, the ethnographer must incorporate relevant literature, maps, charts, and
photographs, which usually make the information easier to understand. The last step is for the
ethnographer to share the ethnography, while showing the importance and applicability of the
information. The ethnography, On the Run by Alice Goffman, was a perfect example of a
combination of both the hourglass and alternative models.
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