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Fall 2012 INF1240 Research Methods: Ethnography

Lecture Slides: Week 7, Oct. 22, 2012

Sara Grimes

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of Fall 2012 INF1240 Research Methods: Ethnography

Copyright 2006 BusinessWeek INF1240
Research Methods How? Ethnography & Observation Non-participant
Passive observation
Covert observation Participant as member Participant as non-member ©2007 Mark for Slap Upside the Head Covert research = ethical issues HUGE Consent (Informed)
Privacy rights
Balancing risk of harm
Risk of losing reflexivity?
+ Very difficult to do
+ Very difficult to obtain ORE clearance

Some exceptional cases, however... Passive = More common Don't engage directly, but also don't attempt to "hide" what you're doing
Limited & directed (e.g. Lever's playground study, Sandvig's library computer study)
Interpretive, & very high need to situate "self"
Ethical dillemas: consent, privacy, etc. Can a researcher ever really be a "member"?
SHOULD a researcher try to be a "member"?
Issues of power relations, outsider/insider
Questions of subjectivity/objectivity
Keeping your distance - acknowledging difference vs. Ethnographic Research "Natural" or In Situ contexts:
Studying people, practices, relationships where, how and when they occur "The ethnographer participates, overtly or covertly, in people's daily lives for an extended period of time, watching what happens, listening to what is said, asking questions; in fact collecting whatever data are available to throw light on the issues with which he or she is concerned."
-- Hammersly &Atkinson (1989, p.2) Canonical/traditional approach: Salsa-dancing (Luker's) approach Runs the gamut from specific, delimited observations aimed at answering a specific question... Participant Observation Field Notes For both types (member/non-member):
Key is in balancing immersion &distance Fit in Keep your distance & Notes taken "In Situ" Transcribe/fill out
immediately after
field work (daily) Take different types of notes:
Your own thoughts
Questions/Things to follow up on
Possible patterns/items of importance (*)
Logistical (who, when, where)
Draw maps, take pictures
Different columns for different levels In addition to
research log (alt. record of influences, readings, plans. Can also incl. personal info, thoughts, etc. ©2010 quite peculiar doreen, via Flickr ©2008 "the professor" Ethnography: Investigating Cultural Practices blog Deeply interpretative:
involves explicit & holistic
interpretation Descriptive: e.g. thick descriptions, setting the scene Involves a number of methods:
Participation, interviews and observations
i.e. "Being in the field" Cooperation and Trust
Build relationships; reciprocity;
Eager learner (avoid being a know-it-all or overly naive) Research your topic. Remember & respect "authority" To ...open-ended, non-linear "everything is grist for the mill": where you try as much as possible to let the data direct you, using pattern recognition, understanding of power relations, etc. Non-Participant Observation Question: Why do you think that is? ©2012 Inge Daniels Typical trajectory of museum visitor in the "At Home in Japan" exhibition, Geffrye Museum (UK), observations of 60 visitors http://researchahoy.wordpress.com/
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