Projects in Ethnographic Research (Angrosino) ch 6-7

(Angrosino) ch 6-7 powerpoint

Chapter 6 (Ethnography and the Analysis of Archived Materials)

Archived Materials Defined

-Ethnographers define archived materials as records stored for research, service, and other official or unofficial purposes by researchers, service agencies, and other groups.

-The materials or data are stored in the format in which they were collected.

-The analysis of archived material is the collection of firsthand data through interviewing and observations in the field.

Examples of Archived Material

-Maps (General and Government Agency)

-Municipal, state, or other government records (births, marriages, property ownership, etc.)

-Church records (marriages, births, baptisms, etc.)

-Census, tax, and voting lists

-Records of human services (welfare, clinics)

-Court proceedings and arrest records

-Local group meeting minutes

-Copies of old newspapers, magazines, flyers, etc.

-Collection of photos, letters, or other memorabilia (public or private)

Note:  Formal museums are sources of archived material (American Museum of Natural History)

Alternative Sources of Archived Material

-Secondary Data:  information collected by other researchers for other purposes, but which can be re-analyzed for one’s own purposes.  (For example, Human Relations File:  information collected on 360 cultures and provides full text.)

Nonreactive Research

-Archival research is nonreactive research:  The researcher is not in direct contact with those under study.

-Positive:  Researcher cannot influence outcome in the field

-Negative:  No personal familiarity with the material

-For this reason, other forms of ethnographic data should be collected in tandem with archived material.




Additional Information on Archived Material

-Archived material is useful in detailing cultural processes through time.

-Caution should be used in examining archived material.  The material may not always tell the full story.

-Issues with archived material:

-Storage (poor conditions and disorganized)

-Availability to material

-Time consuming

Discussion Questions:

  1.  What kinds of archived material have you worked with in past doctoral study projects?
  2. Was it difficult to access the archived material?  Did you have entry into the documents?  Why or why not?
  3. In working with archived material, have you come across inaccurate information?  (Explain)
  4. What databases have you accessed in order to retrieve quality archived material?


Chapter 7 (Presenting Your Findings)


Before Presenting (Are you able to do what an ethnographer does?)

-identify a social setting, unit of analysis, for ethnographic study

-Meaningful explanation (formative theory) of useful and interesting aspect of culture that can be studied in the setting

-Conduct a personal assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses as a researcher

-Devise a plan for keeping and retrieving notes from the field

-“See through the eyes of an ethnographer” conduct both unobtrusive and participant observational studies in the selected setting

-Ask probing questions that help the people in your setting reconstruct their histories and/or reflect on issues of concern

-Access and analyze archived material pertinent to the history or issue of concern, in connection with the people in the setting

Three Basic Skills of an Ethnographer



-Locating and analyzing archived materials

Final Step

-Dissemination of knowledge gained from research!

-Communicate information and insight to a larger audience


Showcasing Work

-Written Report, Article

-Panel Discussion


-Museum Exhibit

Goal of a quality ethnographer is to be an effective communicator



  1. In the past, have you conducted yourself as a true ethnographer in past projects?  Have you actually gone through all the steps?
  2. Once you completed your research, who would your potential audience participants be in sharing your findings?
  3. Is publishing an article sufficient in sharing your research?  Why or why not?
  4. If you were going to think outside the box, what would be one or two ways to showcase your research findings?





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