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Chapter 2 -Angrosino (Sarah)

Chapter 2 -Angrosino

Ethnographic Research Overview Notes

The following are some general characteristics of Ethnographic Research

  1. Studies people in the settings in which they actually live in
  2. Requires personal contact
    1. rapport building
    2. mutuality share information or reciprocal social arrangements
    3. Seeks the perspective and meanings held by members of the study community
    4. Designed to generate data so as to build general theories
      1. Inductive Inquiry that sometimes works out of a framework called Grounded Theory (although it is possible to start with deductive inquiry).
      2. Triangulation – using multiple means to collect data from a variety of sources
      3. Seeks to understand in context of behavior and not simply the content of that behavior
        1. Holistic perspective – predisposing factors, the entire situation
        2. Is rooted in understanding the culture
          1. Culture as defined as a kind of system- an integrated set of beliefs, and material products that is shared by a particular people.
          2. Cultural relativism – which means that every culture is assumed to be meaningful and useful to those who follow its ways.

i.     The principal task of the ethnographer is to describe and explain

Ethics

–       Protect dignity and privacy

–       Institutional Review Boards

–       Informed Consent

–       Confidentiality

Key Terms

Confidentiality , Cultural Relativism, Grounded Theory, Holistic Perspective, Inductive Inquiry Informed Consent, IRB, Mutuality, Rapport, Theory, Triangulation

Chapter 3 Site Selection and Other Practical Consideration

Unit of Analysis –where the ethnographer conducts research in the field

Selection Criteria – Three basic criteria

–       Logistical criteria

  • Legal access
  • Geography

–       Definitional Criteria (how a group is defined) and Conceptual Criteria

  • Conceptual criteria includes questions of saturation (significant number to study)
  • Sampling of population

Some Practical Considerations

– Basic inventory (audio equipment, appropriate clothing, access)

First Contact

–       Advanced preparation

–       Gatekeepers

–       Authority

Characteristics of Good Ethnographic Methods

–       Resourceful-       Enthusiastic

–       Self-motivated

–       Adventurous

–       Cultural Sensitive

–                Trustworthy-                Risk-taking

–                Curious

–                Sociable

–                Able to think conceptually

Some questions to consider

–       Conduct a personal inventory of your qualities as a potential ethnographer, what characteristic traits do you believe you possess and what areas would you need to address?

–       What are some areas you cannot change?

–       How can you mitigate factors you cannot change from being problematic?

–       Why would the philosophy “Know thyself first” be an important concept to embrace? Do you keep a journal?  Why would that be useful?

–       Do you have a favorite system for collecting notes?  Share some ideas.

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(Angrosino) Projects in Ethnographic Research, Chapters 6 & 7 [Sophia]

Angrosino, M. V. (2005).  Projects in Ethnographic Research. Waveland Press.

Chapter 6

Ethnography and the Analysis of Archived Material 

Ethnographers define archived materials as records stored for research, service, and other official or unofficial purposes by researchers, service agencies, and other groups (Angrosino, 2005). Materials or data are usually stored in the format in which they were collected.

Examples of archived materials:

  • Maps
  • Municipal, state, or other government records
  • Church records
  • Census, tax, and voting lists
  • Records of human services
  • Court proceedings and arrest records
  • Local group meeting minutes
  • Copies of old newspapers, magazines, flyers, etc.
  • Collection of photos, letters, or other memorabilia
  • Formal museums

Secondary data is information collected by researchers for other purposes than what they were originally intended for.  This type of archived data may also be useful in ethnographic research. The best known and used ethnographic database is the Human Relations File, which includes information pertaining to 360 cultures. Archival research is nonreactive research because of the lack of direct contact that the researcher has with those being studied. It is recommended that the use of archival materials include other ethnographic data collection methods.

Chapter 7

Presenting Your Findings

 

In his final chapter, Angrosino (2005) reviews the key concepts from previous chapters. They are as follows:

  • Identify a social setting that makes for a reasonable, feasible “unit of analysis” for ethnographic study;
  • Come up with a meaningful explanation (formative theory) of a useful and interesting aspect of culture that can be effectively studied in that setting;
  • Conduct an honest review 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” by conducting both unobstrusive and participant observational studies in your selected setting;
  • Ask probing questions that help people in your setting reconstruct their histories and/or reflect on issues of current concern;
  • Access and make sense of archived material pertinent to the history and/or current circumstances of your community and its people. (pp. 61-62)

Ethnographic data collection skills:

  • Observing
  • Interviewing
  • Locating and analyzing archived materials

Further process remains:

  • Dissemination of knowledge gained from research
  • Communicate information and insight to a larger audience

 Multiple ways to report findings:

  • Written Report, Article (most widely recognized standard of reporting findings)
  • Panel Discussion
  • Website
  • Museum Exhibit

Angrosino (2005) concludes his chapter by stating that “ethnography helps us learn about culture, and an important part of culture is how people communicate; learning how to convey information should therefore be an integral part of what you do as an ethnographic researcher” (p. 64).

Possible Discussion Questions:

  1. Why are archived materials useful?
  2. Why is the examination process of archived materials important?
  3. Describe a project where you have utilized all or some of the ethnographic research steps.
  4. If you were told you could not use the traditional method for reporting your findings (written report), what other option would you choose and why?
  5. Which component of ethnographic research do you find to be the most challenging and why?

(Angrosino) Projects in Ethnographic Research, Chapters 2 & 3 [Stephanie]

Angrosino, M. V. (2005).  Projects in Ethnographic Research. Waveland Press. 

Chapter 2

Basic Principles of Ethnographic Research

Ethnographers are interested in studying people in their natural settings, which means that ethnographic research is conducted in the field rather than a lab.  It requires personal contact between the researcher and the study community.   In essence, the researcher becomes part (to the extent possible) of the everyday life of those being studied.  Because the researcher seeks the perspectives and meanings held by the community, establishing rapport with those being studied is vital in order to conduct a successful study.

Ethnographic research is an “inductive inquiry”, which operates under the framework of “grounded theory.”  This theory is based on the notion that this type of data generation is to conclude general theories.  When working in an “open ended” field, without controlled variables, it is more practical to begin with general questions.  This is opposed to “deductive inquiry” which is the process in which a researcher starts with an established theory from which a hypothesis is tested.  Continue reading

(Angrosino) Projects in Ethnographic Research, Chapters 4 & 5 [Sophia]

Angrosino, M. V. (2005).  Projects in Ethnographic Research. Waveland Press.

Chapter 4

Ethnographic Observation

 

Ethnography research involves observation.  Ethnographers insert themselves into the everyday lives of those who are being studied. Formative theory guides researchers in deciding what to study.  Angrosino (2005) defines formative theory as “nothing more than the explanatory framework that guides one in the initial approach to a new setting” (p. 34). Modifications may be made as the research progresses. Once the researcher narrows their observational focus by means of formative theory, they are able to begin the actual process of observation. Observation becomes data once it is recorded in a retrievable method. Ethnographers usually do not rely on memory. Although the setting may be familiar to the observer, observations should be recorded in a way that is presumed to be foreign. Documentation of everything during the initial stages of observation is suggested.  Observation notes should include who, what, where, and when. Answering the why may take place as the researcher gains familiarity. Continue reading

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

-Observing

-Interviewing

-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

-Website

-Museum Exhibit

Goal of a quality ethnographer is to be an effective communicator

 

Questions

  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?

 

 

 

 

Angrosino’s Projects in Ethnographic Research Ch. 2-3 [Gabriel]

Chapter 2 (Basic Principles of Ethnographic Research)

Ethnographic research is done in the field rather than in a lab.

  • requires personal contact between the researcher and the study community.
  • seeks the perspectives and meanings held by the community.
  • is designed to generated data to build general theories.
  • makes use of triangulation, using multiple means to collect data from a variety of sources, such as observations, interviews, and archival material.
  • seeks a holistic perspective, which means understanding the context of behavior and not simply the content of it.

Ethnographer studies people in the settings in which they actually live, work, and play.

  • does not simply record acts or expressions, but also how those fit together as to constitute a culture.
  • must have cultural relativism, which is the assumption that all culture is meaningful and useful and that it is neither good nor bad, it just is.
  • looks for answers to social and cultural questions and become part of the everyday life of the people being studied in order to establish real friendship and rapport.
    • Essential to rapport is mutuality, which is when the researcher reciprocates what he is asking those being studied to do.
    • Often takes shape of reciprocal social arrangements such as driving people to appointments, babysitting, sharing personal aspects of researcher’s life, or treating people to meals. The giving of money is not considered desirable.

ETHICS

Ethnographers must respect the people they study and protect their dignity.

While they might owe something to those funding their research, the academic community, and the general public, the interest of those being studied comes first!

Informed Consent-process of giving human subjects enough information to make the decision if they would like to participate.

Confidentiality-principle of protecting the privacy of individual participants.

Ch. 3 (Site Selection and Other Practical Considerations)

Unit of Analysis – a workable unit of analysis that can be counted, measured, and described.

Should select a unit that is locatable and bounded.

Can be located in real space of virtual space, such as online groups.

In terms of being bounded think about units that are confined or belong to an established group, such as members of the local downtown business association or members of a Native American tribe on a reservation.

A unit of study that would not be considered bounded could include people who floss their teeth – this group of people are scattered.

SELECTION CRITERIA

Logistical Criteria

  • Select a unit that is close by
  • Can do observations without running cost
  • Single researcher vs. coordinated team?
  • Can be done in a time-efficient manner
  • Any potential barriers to entry?

Definitional Criteria

  • How can the group be bounded?

Conceptual Criteria

  • Are there sufficient numbers of people in the unit to make the study worthwhile?

SOME PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

  • Do I need special permissions to enter the community?
  • Will I need any supplies to carry out research?
  • Will I need special equipment?
  • Do I need to make special arrangements for work and living space?
  • Do I have the kind of clothes considered appropriate?
  • Do I need to make arrangements for transportation?

FIRST CONTACT

It is desirable to enter the field “cold,” but you could also work by identifying a gatekeeper before diving into the community.

SOME PERSONAL CONSIDERATIONS

A “good” ethnographer is:

  • Adventurous
  • Resourceful
  • Enthusiastic
  • Self-motivated
  • Trustworthy
  • Risk-taking
  • Curious
  • Sociable
  • Able to think conceptually
  • Culturally sensitive

Reflection Questions:

  1. What are the benefits of doing research in the field rather than in a laboratory?
  2. Describe a project or fieldwork experience where you used triangulation. What methods of data collection did you employ?
  3. Have you had to use mutuality in any projects or fieldwork you have done? How was this carried out?
  4. Give an example of a unit of study that is bounded and one that would not be considered bounded.
  5. What are the benefits of going into the field “cold” versus contacting someone ahead of time?
  6. As an ethnographer you are supposed to have cultural relativism, but what do you do when you find maybe a practice done by a group unacceptable or immoral in your opinion?

Angrosino’s Projects in Ethnographic Research Ch. 4 and 5 [Jessica]

Ch. 4 – Ethnographic Observation

Ethnography is a process by which a researcher inserts himself or herself into the everyday lives of those whose beliefs and behaviors are to be studied.

In deciding what to study, you are using formative theory. Formative Theory – the explanatory framework that guides one in the initial approach to a new setting. It may be modified as the research progresses, but it is a useful way to begin sorting through the mass of observed detail.  The exampled used in the book is as follows: If you think that modern American culture is defined by its enthusiasm for pop culture, then you would probably not select an Amish farming village as the site for your study.  Once you have narrowed your observational focus by means of formative theory, you can begin the actual process of observation.

Observation – first key technique – it may be assumed that this type of fieldwork is easy, however, determining What should be observed and How to conduct useful observations are key in the use and value of this technique.  In order to properly observe, we must use all senses, not just sight.

Things to remember when conducting observations:

  •      Do not rely on memory
  •      Assume that what you are observing is exotic; document everything
  •      For each situation, answer the following: Who, What, Where, When
  •      Whenever possible, supplement with visual aids (photos, sketches)
  •      Try to keep your field notes free of interpretation. Record your interpretations in your journal.
  •      Try to record EXACT quotes
  •      Use pseudonyms or codes to identify participants while conducting the field.
  •      Follow sequence of events
  •      Great care in dating and categorizing each notation

Ch. 5 – Types of Observation

Unobtrusive Observation – those made with a minimum of research participation. Examples use in text: Researchers stationed themselves in some busy public place (hospital emergency room) and took notes on behaviors of interest without interacting with anyone. Unobtrusive Observation is often structured observation – a very precise format for recording data which allows for comparable data. Other researchers can use the same exact practices for observing and recording data and compile the data for interpretation.

Participant Observation – This is a more typical type of observation. In these cases, the researcher is already someone familiar to the people in the study group. The researcher’s purposes are generally known and the researcher is not simply sitting in a corner taking notes. This method leads to tricky situations since taking notes in the midst of an activity is not possible. The researcher would have to rely on memory. Participant Observation is usually unstructured observation since the researchers is immersed in the flow of events as they are unfolding. Each piece of unstructured observation will be unique.