- social research
- first hand empirical investigation and the theoretical and comparative interpretation of social organisation and culture
- fieldwork usually involved living with a group of people for a period of time to document and interpret their distinctive way yof life, beliefs and values
- peoples actions and accounts are studied in everyday contexts rather than in an experimental setup or highly structured interview organised by the researcher – the research takes place in the field
- data is gathered from a range of sources – documentary evidence, participant observations and/or informal conversations
- data collection is relatively “unstructured” –
- does not involve following through a fixed and detailed research design specified at the start
- categories for interpreting what people say or do are generated out of the process of data analysis
- indepth study – focus is usually only on a few cases – small scale – single group of people or setting
- the results produced are mainly verbal descriptions, explanations, theories
- analysis of the data involves interpretation of the meanings, functions and consequences of human actions and institutional practices; and how these ar implicated in local and wider contexts
- the task is to investigate some aspect of the lives of the people who are being studied
- access to certain areas may need to be gained and negotiation and re-negotiation takes place with participants throughout the process
- a considerable amount of time goes into analysing observation notes, audio and video recordings – demanding activity
- where you as the researcher “stand” relevant to the process of your fieldwork and to the subject of your study is important
- fieldnotes are taken to provide an account that can be consulted again and again
- subject: often a question about a particular group or a cultural practice or belief
- ethnographers record what is said, how it is said and where it is said
- they record sensory impressions as well as their insights
- fieldnotes are where patterns emerge
- the field notes are used to discover, to work towards early understanding, to develop interpretations and to eventually reach their conclusions
- Questions ethnographers ask themselves include:
- who are key actors in a given context?
- what happens in a given place and time? are there any key words that seem to be repeated? – notice anything unusual or different
- where do you find the subjects of your study?
- how do things appear to work?
- larger questions – why did this thing happen?
Hoey, B. A. (2014). A Simple Introduction to the Practice of Ethnography and Guide to Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Marshall Digital Scholar, (June), 1–10. Retrieved from http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1022&context=brian_hoey