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Flashcards in Fieldwork Deck (19)
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- Offers new insights and potential for reflection on own culture
- Takes place in a place that is unfamiliar to ethnographer, but very familiar for informants
- Comes with responsibilities in terms of reciprocal relationships, and ethical considerations


Fieldwork basics

- Holistic, systems-based analysis
- Attention to context and to the ‘everyday’
- Aimed at understanding behaviour in naturalistic settings
- Researcher is an ‘outsider’ trying to learn what it is to be an ‘insider’
- Useful for answering how and why questions


Ethnography for the cultural anthropologist is akin to:

-archival research for the historian
- lab research for the biologist
- survey research for the sociologist


Positivist approach

Single reality that can be detected through senses and that there is a single, appropriate scientific method for investigating that reality


Reflexive approach

Critically thinking about one's own experiences


Search for knowledge

- Rather than being strictly objective or subjective, data and knowledge that is produced through ethnography is intersubjective
- Fieldwork involves a dialectic between fieldworker and informant
- Requires reflexivity



Meaning rooted in the symbolic systems of a culture and shared by participants of that culture


Getting ready for the field

- Requires preparation (Personal, financial, language-related)
- Requires funding
- Requires permission


Participant observation

- The defining method of the cultural anthropologist
- Requires taking careful, detailed fieldnotes of everything that happens around you


Structured interviews

Predetermined questions and record answers; researcher leads and directs interview. Other kinds of interviewing: unstructured, informal, semi-structured



- Written in-the-moment
- More details added at the end of the day, before they are forgotten
- Eventually typed up, so basic analysis can begin (patterns, things that stand out)
- Cleaned up before being included in ethnographic text


Analysis of fieldnotes

- Involves reading, re-reading, searching for patterns in data, and also for data that don’t fit the pattern
- Starts as soon as you start research – ongoing throughout the study
- Findings can be discussed with informants, i.e., “Did I get it right?”
- Keep analyzing until you do not see any new patterns that fit with emerging theory


Ethical issues with fieldwork

- Stand with and speak up or be silent?
- Requests for funds, fees, support-in-kind


Personal issues with fieldwork

- Impact on informants
- Impact on fieldworker


Multisited fieldwork

Researcher follows a process/an idea/a population to various sites or locations; topic not contained by normal boundaries (e.g. geography)


Benefits of research away

- Total immersion
- New relationships
- Leaving the field by plane ticket
- Access could be easier


Challenges of research away

- Culture shock
- Power differences
- Isolation
- Safety and risk
- Basic needs might be hard to meet


Benefits of research at home

- Normal surroundings
- Social network
- Food, language, culture familiar
- Facility of understanding


Challenges of research at home

- Hard to gain access
- Normal life + fieldwork
- Isolation
- Difficulty leaving