Becker Epistemology (Cruz_Boone)

  Qualitative Quantitative
Collect more data than intended    
Collect the amount of data intended    
Historical or Ethnographic Cases    
Laws of Social Interaction    
an “explanation” of an act based on a logic of numerical difference between groups with different traits.


a description which makes sense of as much as possible of what they have seen as they observed: how, what, then—with an explanation of sequence    
Collecting raw data from facebook    
Conducting a survey on facebook    
Generates hypothesis    
Tests the hypothesis    
Empirical inquiry    













Discussion Questions:

The Actor’s Point of View: Accuracy

“Bruno Latour’s rule of method is: we should be as undecided as the actors we study. If they think a conclusion, a finding or a theory is shaky, controversial, or open to question, then we should too and should not regard it as something to be placed in a “black box” never to be opened again. And we should do that even if what we are studying is an historical controversy whose outcome we now know, even though the actors involved at the time couldn’t. Conversely, if the actors involved think the piece of science involved is beyond question, so should we.”

Many assertions are made about interaction with video games.  Do you think all studies that attribute social aggression and violence to video games are as undecided as the actors they study? Do either Blumer idea of attribution error or Latour’s rule of method apply to this example, explain?


The Everyday World: Making Room for the Unanticipated

Quotidia (Schutlz, 1962) is understandings people share or “shared understandings made manifest in act and artifact” (Redfield, 1941).   In the digital age how does Quotidia manifest?  Meaning what artifacts share or communicate what is valuable to people? What are those artifacts?  Who are those people?  How do you judge what is valuable?


Full Description, Thick Description: Watching the Margins

“Ethnographers pride themselves on providing dense, detailed descriptions of social life, the kind Geertz (1974) has taught us to recognize as “thick.” Their pride often implies that the fuller the description, the better, with no limit suggested. At an extreme, ethnographers talking of reproducing the “lived experience” of others.”

If we as ethnographers were trying to determine a “thick” description of dating patterns for kern county youth (10-13) how would data be collected (digital survey of parents, paper reflection of youth, interviews, other)?


Epistemology- is about searching for the “oughts” rather than the “is’s”

Empirical disciplines, in contrast, have concerned themselves with how things work rather than what they ought to be, and settled their questions empirically.

Epistemology has been a similarly negative discipline, mostly devoted to saying what you shouldn’t do if you want your activity to merit the title of science, and to keeping unworthy pretenders from successfully appropriating it. The sociology of science, the empirical descendant of epistemology, gives up trying to decide what should and shouldn’t count as science, and tells what people who claim to be doing science do, how the term is fought over, and what people who win the right to use it can get away with. (Latour 1987)


Thesis: this paper will not be another sermon on how we ought to do science, and what we shouldn’t be doing, and what evils will befall us if we do the forbidden things. Rather, it will talk about how ethnographers have produced credible, believable results, especially those results which have continued to command respect and belief.






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