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Field Notes in Ethnographic Research by Robert M. Emerson

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Abby Creek

on 27 February 2014

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Transcript of Field Notes in Ethnographic Research by Robert M. Emerson

Ethnographic Participation
Inscribing Experiences/Observed Realities
Field Notes in Ethnographic Research
by Robert M. Emerson
"ethnographic field research involves the study of groups and people as they go about their everyday lives....The ethnographer participates in the daily routines of this setting, develops ongoing relations with the people in it, and observes all the while what is going on...second, the ethnographer writes down in regular, systematic ways what she observes and learns while participating in the daily rounds of life with others" (Emerson 1).
The ethnographer should:
seek 'immersion'
reactive effects
"[Transcribing is a] process of transforming naturally occurring speech into specific words"
document non-verbal, and verbal cues
reflecting for future readers
interviews vs. participation

Implications For Writing Fieldnotes
Inseparability of 'methods' and 'findings'
Seek out indigenous meanings
Take contemporary field notes
Pay attention to interactional detail

The ethnographer should not:
be fly on the wall
try to determine the 'truth'
There is no 'correct' way to describe an observation
Selection/Building a frame
Transcripts/interviews/video recordings
Transcription, Translation, Narration, Inscription, ect.
multiple versions of the truth
"field notes do more than record observations...they constitute a way of life through the very writing choices the ethnographer makes and the stories she tells; for, though her writing conveys her understandings and insights to future readers unacquainted with these lives, people, and events..." (16).
Now your turn:

Can you explain the story as it happened?
Participant Observation
the ethnographer enters a social setting and gets to know the members
the ethnographer participates in the daily routines, develops relationships, and observes events as they occur
the ethnographer writes down what they learn, and experience while participating, AKA 'Fieldnotes'
"first hand written participation in some initially unfamiliar social world and the production of written accounts of that world by drawing upon such participation" (1)
The Playful Self: Being a Fan at a College Basketball Game

Basketball Structure
"Basketball is not just a game to see; it is (or can be) a potent cultural event , a highly involving , playfully expressive ritual of communicative practices, in which one participates"
1. Fans

2. Mascot

3. Band

4. Players/Coaches

5. Cheerleaders

6. Referees
For the Fans : Discourse
There are acts that we partake in that we wouldn't identify as rituals!
Warm up



Game talk


Style of Talk
high intensity
low intensity
A couple of things to consider
* Adjectives are important in an ethnography.
ex. "

*Interpretation is all up to the ethnographer
Its Not JUST Basketball
"Fans gather, then, as fans, not only to celebrate their favored team, and not only for some degree of release through competition and intense social activity, but moreover for some degree of communal integration through the celebration."
Why is it important?
"By examining the public actions we perform daily we may better come to grips with our social identities and the various notions of public life related to this"
Q: what kinds of pre-constructed frames hinder somebody from being fully immersed in a society?
Q: do you think you can ever have a truly accurate transcription? Is it possible to build a frame around a transcription?
Full transcript