Tuesday, January 13, 2009 Ethnographic method Cornerstone of cultural anthropology Method anthropologist primarily use to collect and analyze data Goal is to understand social life (or a particular problem) from the insider?s view Ethnographic methods Establishing rapport Establish relationships Participant observation Immersing yourself in a culture Interviewing Formal/informal (structured/unstructured) Life histories Mapping Kinship charting Photography Doing Fieldwork Choosing a problem or site Obtaining funding Preliminary research Studying location or topic so you will not just be repeating previous research Arrival and setting settled (?culture shock?) Choosing a place to live Working with unfamiliar languages/customs Building rapport Identifying key consultants Gathering data (using methods) Surveys, statistical consultants Interpreting data Writing it up When Reading Ethnographies, always consider: The theoretical perspective of the researcher How people represent themselves to researcher How the researcher represent him/herself to the people Historical event going on during research Research is affected by: The subject position(s) of the ethnographer(s) Country of origin (region, community) Class Race-ethnicity Gender Sexual orientation Age Life experiences Other Methods: Other qualitative methods- historical research, gathering documents, archives, etc. Quantitative surveys (close-ended questions), statistical analyses, etc. Ethics AAA Code of Ethics Has numerous principles including Intellectual honesty Addresses falsification of information Addresses intentional bias Must disclose to people you are researching your goals and intentions, and also methods and if you are planning on publicizing information gathered (informed consent) Institutional Review Board (IRB) Set up to protect the university To ensure students, professors, etc? aren?t acting unethically to get the university in trouble Theoretical Trends (late 19th/early 20th century) Cultural evolution Late 19th cent Looked at changes in societies with special regard to political associations Many ideas based on Eurocentric and racist views Used to justify slavery and such Today, theory is different and unpopular Historical particularism All societies have their own cultural? something Paid a lot of attention to details, households, cultural traits Margaret Mead (1928) Coming of Age in Samoa Structural-functionalism British anthropology call social anthropology Interested in different institutions within societies Economic institutions, religious institutions, etc? Two main figures of structural functionalism Bronislaw Malinowski (1922) Argonauts of the Western Pacific A.R. Radcliffe-Brown (1952) Sturcture and Function in Primitive Society Structuralism Concerned with the production and reproduction of meaning by looking through various activities Concerned with basic elements of humanity and what meanings shape our consciousness Claude Levi-Strauss (1964/1969) The Raw and the Cooked Theoretical Trends (mid 20th cent-present) Cultural ecology So focused on adaptations to environment, they tended to devote all adaptations to the environment even when they are not; did not consider maladaptation Interpretation/symbolic Humanistic; concerned with causes; meanings; and supporting theories Thick description Geertz Steven Feld (1982) birds, songs in Papua New Guinea Marcus and Fischer (1986) reflections about ethnographic representations Political economy Power relations Many others: feminist; post-colonial, etc. Emily Martin (1987) Woman in the Body Decolonizing Anthropology Examples of Anthropological Journals American Anthropologist Human Organization Medical Anthropology Quarterly There is no such thing as pure objectivity because the things we have learned shape the things we see. Qualitative research- ethnography
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