Ethnographic Observation TSL 4520
Background (Milde, R., 2001)
Common wisdom tells us that there are, in general, two kinds of writing: creative and expository. Creative writing tells about feelings, opinions, points of view, things that originate inside the writer. Expository essays tell about facts, things outside of the writer. Essays on literature examine a literary text, a thing outside the writer. Lab reports describe experiments with chemicals and other stuff that really exists and can be measured. Research is factual; fiction, poetry, and the personal story are emotional.
Wrong. Writing is not that simple. The farther you go in your academic or professional ...view middle of the document...
The she or he writes articles or books finding patterns and lessons in this massive data. But what kind of data is it? The researcher is part of the situation being studied. He/she cannot possibly observe a social situation without being part of it. The researcher can’t pretend he has objectivity. Most ethnographers admit their own feelings, points of view, and social roles in the community. They are “participant/observers” in the culture. By admitting their human point of view, they allow their readers to second-guess them, if necessary. They allow us to read their results in a more informed way. Read the following information for additional background about writing ethnographies.
Ethnography. A Tool for In-Depth Understanding
Ethnographic Research, Observations from Different Perspectives
You will find group from another culture that shares an interest or an identity. You will observe them for approximately an hour, taking notes on as many details as you can. The goal is to observe as closely as possible; below are some ideas for what and how to observe.
You’ll need a group that meets at a particular place at a particular time (so you can actually observe). Meetings of clubs or interest groups, workplaces, religious services, classes, and social gatherings all provide a location and a time to observe (feel free to add other examples).
There are several steps to this project. The pre-writing steps, in this case, are crucially important. It will be easy to write the paper if you have a wealth of detailed observations to write about.
Reflection Firstly, look to yourself. How has your worldview been colored by culture? Identify your morals, values, (i.e. “rights and wrongs”) and any biases that might reflect on the group you will study. Secondly, what is the religion/philosophy/spiritual movement you chose? What were your thoughts on this movement before you began your study? Did your study help you to a better understanding of the movement? Did you use “etic” or “emic” analysis (or both) and how effective did you find these methods? Where and by whom is this movement practiced? What are its rituals, credos, myths, symbols, taboos, deities/higher powers? What are its origins? How does it tie into/affect/is affected by the politics, law, economy, ethics, history, and gender of the encompassing society? Be aware of ethnocentrism; describe and understand but do not judge. Study what people believe, not whether or not what they believe is true. Guiding question
Guiding questions are aimed at the basic point of ethnography: gaining the world view of a group of people.
A common format for a guiding questions might be:
How do members of a particular group perceive of or understand a certain social or cultural phenomenon? (This is often seen through behavior of some kind.)
Thesis statement Your thesis statement should contain a mini-outline of the paper; this outline...