What is Ethnography? • Participant observation and writing • Detailed description of events as well as finding an insight into their meaning (description + analysis) • A method of discovery (not an approach to test an hypothesis) • A comparative method (filling the gap between reality and perceived reality) • Naturalistic setting, empathy • Understanding the symbolic world of the culture studied
Participant Observation • Entry: Developing presence and relationship in the designated research setting that makes it possible for the researcher to collect data • Building rapport: develop good relationships with people in the subculture to get access to the field and to information • Data collection requires the presence of the researcher in the field recording routines within the culture • Identify the rules and meanings that govern relationships and actions in the setting • It is not just observing, but often asking questions. • Limitations: Hawthorn Effect
Ethnographic Writing • Seminal ideas about ethnographic writing suggest that it should somewhat be objective • The data collection techniques are rigorous but the writing itself can be biased due to the nature of the language itself, the twists added by the ethnographer worldview, etc. • New approaches to ethnography do not give priority to the objective truth over emotions and opinions.
Culture and Subculture • Typical assumed boundaries for culture include nationality,ethnicity, language, and geography • Subcultures are smaller units within the larger culture with different cultural norms from the mainstream culture • Norms can range from behavior, rituals, location, insider language, clothing, etc.
Examples • Classic Examples of Ethnographic work • James Patrick: A Glasgow Gang Observed • Laud Humphreys: Tearoom Trade • Irvin Goffman: Asylums • Examples of subculture • Dominican/Indian, Mexican Restaurant • IEI students at Ball State University • English Professors at Ball State University • Student Organizations on Campus • Online chat room (subscribers to ‘lefaso net’)
Importance of Ethnography • Program development and evaluation • New product development • Broadens our horizons, awakens our capacity to care about people different from us, helps us know how we converse with them (Bochner & Caroline 26).