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Thomas Misco

on 27 July 2015

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Transcript of capstone_033112

What does "culture" mean?
Paradigm: a world view, a general perspective, a way
of breaking down the complexity of the world
There is a radical difference between why a leaf flies
in the wind and why a man flees from a mob.
Human actions are charged with meanings.
(but what does meaning mean?)
"Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an
interpretive one in search of meaning" (Geertz, 1973, p. 5).
Naturalistic & social science paradigm

Social science, unlike natural science, is permeated with values and therefore susceptible to bias (a fascist anthropologist is more likely to claim inferiority of certain races)

unlike natural sciences, social science contain the all important past

Some suggest culture and social concepts can only be understood by the participants themselves (emic)

Others (Malinowski) suggest only an outsider (etic) can form these understandings

Verstehen (“to understand”): the social scientist can and must make use of his own inner experience; he/she must use the methods of introspection and empathy

The inquirer and the "object" of inquiry interact to influence one another; knower and known are inseperable

All entities are in a state of mutual simultaneous shaping so that it is impossible to distinguish causes from effects

No two people/social contexts/settings/places are exactly alike

Culture of course plays a role in differing conceptual frameworks related to social science

What examples can you think of?
What are the necessary and sufficient conditions?
Do they change? If so, what are the implications?
Is there an American culture?
What does any of this have to do with education?


There is a great deal of difference between a wink and a blink.
Epistemology: The branch of philosophy that deals with knowing
and the methods of obtaining knowledge.
Theoretical Framework
Observations of Phenomena
Hammersley (1995) warns against defining ethnography in detail, preferring to think of it as participation in the daily lives of people over an extended period of time while watching, listening, asking questions, and collecting any data that can inform the research questions. Ethnography, suggests Hammersley, should involve the portrayal of individuals and their construction of the social world, both through their interpretations and the actions that arise from those interpretations which culminate in distinct social worlds.
LeCompte and Schensul (1999a) view ethnography as a method capable of solving human problems, case studies that focus on culture, and simply “writing about groups of people” (p. 21).
Goetz and LeCompte (1984) distinguish educational ethnography as providing rich and descriptive data about the contexts and beliefs of participants in an educational setting.
Geertz noted, ethnography is about gaining rapport, selecting appropriate informants, and keeping field notes, but these actions do not define it. Rather, ethnography is thick description, which ensures meaning is not glossed over in favor of understandings gleaned through simple observation (Bogdan & Biklen, 2003).
Ethnographic studies are fundamentally interested in cultural context, which includes the history
of the community as well as the attitudes of community members, parents, educators, citizens,
policy makers, and students (Merriam, 2001).
Ethnographic Methods
Observations as the Primary Method of Data Collection
How can our differences be explained?
How can we know what is correct and what is not?
What we see is what is familiar

What is not familiar is hard to see

Sometimes we distort unfamiliar things to make them seem familiar

When we perceive, we must decide what is relevant and what is irrelevant. This
in turn, affects what we see.

We need a theoretical/conceptual framework
Prepare a physical description of your subject that shows you have explored it with all of your senses and learned everything you can (no framework)
Sense: take in data without preconception
Perceive: arrange data into some kind of order
Thinking: drawing conclusions about patterns and meaning

When we start to think, we may cut ourselves off from our sensations

What is happening here?
1. What is happening, specifically, in social action that takes place in this particular setting?
2. What do these actions mean to the actors involved in them, at the moment the actions took place?
3. How are the happenings organized in patterns of social organization and learned cultural principles for the conduct of everyday life--how, in other words, are people in the immediate setting consistently present to each other as environments for one another's meaningful actions?
4. How is what is happening in this setting as a whole (i.e., the classroom) related to happenings at other system levels outside and inside the setting (e.g., the school building, community, government mandates, multiple layers of culture, etc.)?
5. How do the ways everday life in this setting is organized compare with other ways of organizing social life in a wide range of settings in other places and at other times? (Erickson, 1986)

The fish would be the last creature to discover water. Make the familiar strange.
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