The author starts with trying to inform the reader that this paper is not a “sermon” (p.2) instead, “it will talk about how ethnographers have produced credible, believable results, especially those results which have continued to command respect and belief” (p. 2).
Why Do We Think There’s a Difference?
The author tries to describe the differences between qualitative and quantitative research methods. The main difference the author says is that they try to use different ways of reaching generalizations regarding social life. The quantitative research looks for numerical differences between groups that can explain why certain groups are the way they are and what those difference can lead to.
The fieldworker on the other hand tries to understand the individual or individuals involved in certain activities and does not try to prove specific relationships between different things. Another difference between the two methods is the fact that the fieldworker gets a lot more information than the qualitative surveyor whether he/she wants it or not. Fieldworkers have no way of keeping themselves from receiving data and they can get more information which might be important to them if they keep entering everything into field notes.
The author explains that ethnographers or fieldworkers are not all the same and says that he will focus on some of the older methods like participant observation and unstructured interviewing.
The Actor’s Point of View: Accuracy
Ethnographers according to the author try to understand the “actor’s” point of view which means they try to see and understand what the “subject” or the person or people they are observing is feeling and thinking. There is a danger that fieldworkers can fall into when they try to think they know why someone did something instead of observing the person to see exactly why they are doing something.
The Everyday World: Making Room for the Unanticipated
The author explains that we do things based on what we think others will do in reaction to what we do. He writes “this is the notion of the everyday world as the world people actually act in every day, the ordinary world in which the things we are interested in understanding actually go on.” (p. 7)
Full Description, Thick Description: Watching the Margins
Geertz has instilled in ethnographers the idea that they should have a lot of details and full descriptions but the author suggests that instead of including every detail and description, the ethnographer should look for the information that is relevant and important.
The author concludes with the assertion that even though qualitative and quantitative methods are different and the researchers might use different methods, they aren’t really that different. In fact, he writes that the only difference is “they really just work in different situations and ask different questions.
Questions 1: Why do you think the author disagrees with Geertz and says that ethnographers should concentrate on the relevant and important information not everything?
Question 2: Do you agree that qualitative and quantitative methods are not really that different? Why?
Question 3: Do you agree with the author that people do things because of the reaction they expect from others?
Question 4: What stood out to you as the most important concept in this article and why?