Prateek Garg Sociology 100 ? Tony Chen 2/11/2010 Word of the Day: Autonomous Self governing, independent RECAP: Ethnographic Methods Ethnography is participant-observation Direct observation Fine-grained, up-close Perceptions, motivations and experience It focuses on different questions than statistics Usually tries to answer ?How? versus ?why? When random sampling is not possible (like distributing race and whatnot) When surveys are unreliable. Famous Ethnographies Willam Foote Whyte, street corner Society Loic Wacquant, Body and Soul, Boxing ring Michael Burawoy, Manufacturing Conset Mitch Duneier, Sidewalk Sudhir Venkatesh, American Project How does Ethnography work? A site is Identified (picking a social world to enter) Entrée is gained (getting entry into this world) Informants are developed Data is collected (field notes, interviews, think Sudhir Venkatesh) Evidence is written up Gowan, The Nexus (2002) This is a study of homeless men based on extensive and intensive observation. San Francisco (5 years), St. Louis (7 months) ?street ethnography? ?bottle collectors, drug dealers, pan handlers? Gowan?s Key findings challenge the assumptions of criminologists and survey researchers Homelessness and incarceration were endogenous Homelessness led to incarceration Incarceration led to homelessness How incarceration leads to homelessness Many of Gowan?s informants had been initially incarcerated for non-violent, drug related offenses For some, incarceration led almost immediately homelessness For others, incarceration led to unemployment, unstable housing arrangements, and eventually to homelessness. This tended to occur faster in San Francisco than St. Louis How Homelessness leads to Incarceration Homeless men committed crimes of desperation Homeless men were often the targets of city policies aimed a ?rabble management.? This criminalizes their very existence. ?Rabble management? meant that homeless men were often forced to keep ?bad company? that encouraged illicit activity. If homelessness and incarceration are endogenous, however, Gowan?s intensive fieldwork also reveals that the cycle does start somewhere ?The research clearly indicates that the initial point into the homelessness/incarceration nexus was more?? Strengths of Ethnography Ethnography has numerous strengths Appropriate for questions that statistically based research simply cannot address Illuminates the actual processes linking variables, which otherwise remain a ?black box? in statistical research Can uncover how things work, not just why things work. Weaknesses of Ethnography Applicability: a study in one city does not mean it will apply to all of them Researcher Bias Too close to their informants and start to think like them ?Going native? becoming part of the world that you?re studying Limited in understanding what happened in the past Only focuses in the here and now Limits of Ethnographic Research Ethnographers are vulnerable to bias Projection of ethnographers own cultural bias Naive acceptance of their informants? statements, total immersion leads to going native Informants may be problematic figures Presence of the ethnographer A single case lacks generalizability Comparative Methods Large-N versus Small-N Methods When it is possible to construct large data sets with lots of observation, large-N (statistical) methods are often the most appropriate OLS regression Logistic regression Instrumental variables Regression discontinuity When there are only a limited number of observations at hand, small-N methods are often the most appropriate. Ethnography In-depth interviews Comparative analysis Comparative Method Some interesting questions have only a few cases: social revolutions, urban riots, genocide How is it possible to generate strong inferences about why certain outcomes occurred Method of Similarity Causality is inferred by identifying the similarities among comparable cases sharing similar outcomes Selecting on the Dependent Variable This method of similarity can be flawed ?Selecting on the dependent variable? Looks for similarities only among cases where the outcome of interest occurred But cases where the outcome of interest does not occur may exhibit the same similarities If you select on the dependent variable, this is something you cannot rule out. Method of Difference Causality is inferred by identifying the factors that distinguish different outcomes that are otherwise comparable Skocpol -Wants to figure out why social revolutions occur -In particular France, Russia and China Four Theoretical Perspectives Marxist: ?Class-based movements? Psychological (Gurr): Collective sense of ?relative deprivation? Political-conflict (Tilly): Group conflict and competition over power and resourcs Systems/value consensus (Johnson): Crisis in the social system and mismatch with dominant figures Skocpol?s Synthesis Skocpol takes a structural perspective that ?rises above? the experience of historical actors to identify regularities across historical instances Skocpol emphasizes the importance of taking a broad, international perspective Skocpol adopts a state-centered perspective in which the state is autonomous force, and not merely captive to, social forces. Case Selection Skocpol chooses to analyze France (1789), Russia (1917) and China (1945-47) Why? These are not cases of de-colonization All three revolutions took place in rich agrarian autocracies having proto-bureaucratic systems and facing international competition All three revolutions resulted in a ?centralized, bureaucratic, and mass-incorporating nation-state with enhanced power.?
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