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Chapter 21: Ethnographic Research
Transcript of Chapter 21: Ethnographic Research
• A detailed description and analysis of the culture-sharing group (the group being studied)
• Interpretation of the group by the researcher as to the meanings and generalizations about the social life of human beings in general.
• Final product is a holistic, cultural portrait of the group.
Chapter 21: Ethnographic Research
What does it involve?
• Establish a rapport within the community.
• Learn to act so that people go about their business as usual when you show up.
•An open-minded approach and view of the subjects.
• Put what you learned into perspective.
• The eloquence to communicate your findings in a sensitive and respectful manner.
The Concepts Important to Ethnographic Researchers
Cultural interpretation refers to a researcher’s ability to describe what he or she sees and hears from the point of view of the members of the group.
: Ethnographers try to gain some idea of the group’s history, social structure, politics, religious beliefs, symbols, customs, rituals, and environment.
Contextualization: Putting the data into perspective.
: An “insider’s perspective of reality to gain a clearer understanding and describing accurately the behaviors and situations the ethnographer sees and hears.
: An external objective perspective on reality. The ethnographer tries to look at data in a scientific, more objective manner.
: Describing what they thought or heard in great detail.
Member Checking: Having participants review what the researchers have written to check for accuracy and completeness.
A Nonjudgmental Orientation
: Refrain from making value judgments about unfamiliar practices.
: there is no sampling at all since researchers attempt to observe everything within a setting or situation they are observing. Also, since the participant groups studied are typically small, the research finding would not lend themselves to generalizations to larger populations.
: No precise hypothesis, since they try to understand ongoing situations or sets of activities. Observations and interviewing are continual and sustained over time.
Field Jotting: Quick notes to be added to later.
Field diary: Personal statement of the researchers feelings, opinion, and perspectives.
Field Log: Running account of how the researchers plan to spend their time compared to how they actually spend it. Researcher’s plan for how he/she will spend their time.
The Pros and Cons
What is Ethnographic Research?
A documentation or portrayal of the everyday experiences of individuals...
Gathered by observing and interviewing relevant individuals.
Use to obtain a holistic picture of a particular society, group, institution, setting, or situation.
Involves studying many variables over an extended period of time
• Provides the researcher a much more comprehensive perspective than other forms. By observing the actual behavior of individuals in the natural setting, one gains a deeper understanding of such behavior.
• Most appropriate type of research for behaviors best understood by observing them in their natural setting.
• Best for studying behavior over time.
Ex: Studying the “life” of an inner-city school.
Highly dependent on the researcher’s observations and interpretations.
There is no way to check validity of researcher’s conclusions and thus biases are almost impossible to eliminate.
No generalization is possible since the research was conducted in one particular setting.
Replication of the study is impossible.
Because the research is conducted without a hypothesis to confirm or deny the terms may not be defined and the specific variable or relationship being investigated (if any) may remain unclear.
Because of the ambiguity that accompanies this method, pre-planning and review by others are much less useful than in quantitative studies.
Interviewing: Must be friendly and somewhat casual while still systematic.
Participant Observation (Immersion in the culture):
Combination of participating in the lives the people being studied and maintaining a professional distance that allows adequate observation and recording of data.
Field Notes: Detailed notes taken in the setting. Written account of the researcher sees, hears, and experiences.
Descriptive-describe the setting, people, and what they do.
Reflective-What the researcher is thinking about as she/he observes, frame of mind, reflections on ethical dilemmas or conflicts.
There are several methods of data collection for ethnographic research
By: Martha Heidari and Sarah Goodwin