Analytical ethnography does not presume a principal analytical frame. It does not know (yet) where and when the field takes place. Rather, the ethnographer is in search for appropriate spatiotemporal frames in correspondence with the occurrences in the field. Accordingly, the author organizes a dialogue between conceptual frames and his various empirical accounts. He confronts snapshots of English Crown Court proceedings with models of event and process from micro-sociology and macro-sociology. A range of–more or less early or late, relevant (...) or irrelevant, contingent or predetermined–processual events serves as the vantage point to access event and process relations. In this line, Crown Court proceedings serve as an introductory and exemplary field for analytical ethnography, because they involve both: (strong) events and their process and (strong) processes and their events. (shrink)
In this paper recent research involving interdisciplinary ethnography is presented as an exploration of its contribution to studies of people and technology in the workplace. Three main patterns of interaction between ethnography and ‘the others’ are examined. First, the influence of ethnography in promoting people-oriented perspectives of technology is discussed with reference to workplace studies in manufacturing. Second, ethnography contribution to the development of hybrid methods for the design and implementation of technology for use in the (...) workplace is illustrated by several examples of such frameworks. Third, the influence of ethnographic research to providing a theoretical basis for computer-mediated communication is explored and documented by analyses of design teams working together as part of construction projects. From a practical point of view, this exploration has resulted in a brief discussion of the broad range of ‘users’ in the real-life workplace who benefit from ethnographic research. Future work in this area will rely on a reflexive stance on the part of the ethnographer in relation to both users of technology and users of ethnography. (shrink)
Recent ethnographic studies of lived ethics, such as those of Leela Prasad and Saba Mahmood, present valuable opportunities for comparative religious ethics. This essay argues that developments in philosophical and religious ethics over the last three decades have supported a strong interest in thick descriptions of what it means to be human. This anthropological turn has thereby laid important groundwork for the encounter between these scholars and new ethnographic studies. Nonetheless, an encounter it is. Each side brings novel questions to (...) the other. The second part of the essay focuses on one of these questions: How, exactly, are these ethnographic studies to inform normative reflection on ethical questions? (shrink)
: At the turn of the twentieth century, comparative studies of human culture (ethnology) gave way to studies of the details of individual societies (ethnography). While many writers have noticed a political sub-text to this paradigm shift, they have regarded political interests as extrinsic to the change. The central historical issue is why anthropologists stopped asking global, comparative questions and started asking local questions about features of particular societies. The change in questions cannot be explained by empirical factors alone, (...) and following Jarvie, this essay argues that political factors motivate the change. Jarvie's understanding of the role played by egalitarian politics is criticized, and the essay develops a new model of how political or moral values can become constitutive of scientific inquiry. On the erotetic view of explanation, whether one proposition explains another depends on the choice of contrast class and relevance criterion. Since political or moral values can motivate these choices, explanation can depend on non-epistemic values. The essay argues that the comparative questions of nineteenth-century ethnology presupposed that Europeans were superior to other races. It closes by arguing that Fanz Boas recognized the political values implicit in nineteenth-century ethnology and rejected its questions on those grounds. (shrink)
This essay describes institutional ethnography as a method of inquiry pioneered by Dorothy E. Smith, and introduces a collection of papers which make distinctive contributions to the development of this novel form of investigation. Institutional ethnography is presented as a research strategy which emerges from Smith's wide-ranging explorations of the problematic of the everyday world. Smith's conception of the everyday world as problematic involves a critical departure from the concepts and procedures of more conventional sociologies. She argues for (...) an alternative sociology which begins with the standpoint of the actor in everyday life, rather than from within a professional sociological discourse aligned with the society's ruling institutions. The familiar sociologies of everyday life do not suffice for this purpose, since they deal with local settings and social worlds, but stop short of examining how these are knitted into broader forms of social organization. In contrast, institutional ethnography examines how the scenes of everyday life are shaped by forms of social organization which cannot be fully grasped from within those scenes. The principal tasks of institutional ethnography include describing the coordination of activities in the everyday world, discovering how ideological accounts define those activities in relation to institutional imperatives, and examining the broader social relations in which local sites of activity are embedded. The four papers which follow demonstrate that specific contributions to institutional ethnography can be made in relation to a wide array of topics, methods, and interests. (shrink)
This paper aims to contribute to current discussions about methods in anthropological (especially ethnographic) research on the cultures of the internet. It does so by considering how technology has been presented in turn as an epistemological boon and bane in methodological discourse around virtual or online ethnography, and cyberanthropology. It maps these discussions with regards to intellectual traditions and ambitions of ethnographic research and social science, and considers how these views of technology relate to modernist discourse about the value (...) of technology for producing a particular kind of objective knowledge. For this article, I have examined a number of monographs and methodological texts in which the internet, as both a new setting and a new technology for doing ethnography, is shown to raise new issues for ethnographic work and for theorising anthropological approaches. In this material, questions of presence, field relations (including trust and confidentiality), and new possibilities for observation are especially prominently discussed. Anxieties about whether the internet can be a field at all are also expressed. In my analysis, I place these issues and dilemmas facing the researcher in the context of the intellectual tradition of ethnography as applied to technology. The main themes found to subtend these discussions of ethnography's 'way of knowing' are the notion of 'field', technology, intersubjectivity and capture. The paper ends with a reflection on the kind of knowledge about the internet that ethnography can be expected to produce, given these methodological prescriptions. (shrink)
Human beings grow into cultural knowledge, within a social and environmental context, rather than receiving it ready made. This seems also to be true of cetaceans. Rendell and Whitehead invoke a notion of culture long since rejected by anthropologists, and fundamentally misunderstand the nature of ethnography. A properly ethnographic study of cetaceans would directly subvert their positivist methodology and reductionist assumptions.
Using Greek ethnography as a mirror for an ethnography of anthropology itself, this book reveals the ways in which the discipline of anthropology is ensnared in the same political and social symbolism as its object of study. The author pushes the comparative goals of anthropology beyond the traditional separation of tribal object from detached scientific observer, and offers the discipline a critical source of reflexive insight based on empirical ethnography rather than on ideological speculation alone.
In hospital rooms across the country, doctors, nurses, patients, and their families grapple with questions of life and death. Recently, they have been joined at the bedside by a new group of professional experts, bioethicists, whose presence raises a host of urgent questions. How has bioethics evolved into a legitimate specialty? When is such expertise necessary? How do bioethicists make their decisions? And whose interests do they serve? Renowned sociologist Charles L. Bosk has been observing medical care for thirty-five years. (...) In What Would You Do? he brings his extensive experience to bear on these questions while reflecting on the ethical dilemmas that his own ethnographic research among surgeons and genetic counselors has provoked. Bosk considers whether the consent given to ethnographers by their subjects can ever be fully voluntary and informed. He questions whether promises of confidentiality and anonymity can or should be made. And he wonders if social scientists overestimate the benefits of their work while downplaying the risks. Vital for practitioners of both the newly prominent field of bioethics and the long-established craft of ethnography, What Would You Do? will also engross anyone concerned with how our society addresses difficult health care issues. (shrink)
There is considerable scope for developing a more explicit role for ethnography within the research program proposed in the article. Ethnographic studies of cultural micro-evolution would complement experimental approaches by providing insights into the “natural” settings in which cultural behaviours occur. Ethnography can also contribute to the study of cultural macro-evolution by shedding light on the conditions that generate and maintain cultural lineages. (Published Online November 9 2006).
This paper points to the need in ape language research to shift from experimentation to ethnography. We cannot determine what goes on inside the head of an ape when it communicates with a human being, but we can learn about the nature and content of the communication that occurs in such face-to-face interaction. This information is fundamental for establishing a baseline for the abilities of an ape-human common ancestor.
I began this essay by advancing three claims with respect to conducting ethnographic research: the analyst should be disposed to engage Other in a genuinely dialogic fashion so as to produce shared understanding; provision should be made for the analyst to disengage from the dialogue for purposes of self-reflection; and there should be some justificatory grounds for ideology critique. At the same time, I noted the problematic status of these claims on conceptual and methodological grounds and pointed to a need (...) for taking account of the analyst as a subject whose being in the world impinges upon the analysis at each stage of research. This awareness, it seems to me, calls for an ethnography which is phenomenologically instigated. This is to say that the ethnographer needs to be no less sensitive to his or her own subjectivity than to the meanings of Other.In order to get clearer as to what might be involved in making the above claims, I discussed critically Gadamer's phenomenological hermeneutics. Although Gadamer is to be commended for his philosophical inquiry into the bases of self-understanding, we saw that his phenomenological hermeneutics suffered a number of limitations, all of which being linked to his inability to adequately free the subject from the limits of self-understanding. Thus, Gadamer's subject-as-analyst is restricted as a participant in dialogue with Other; engages in self-reflection without a firm footing; and is unable thus to mount a justifiable critique either of Other or the subject's own tradition/culture.This critique of Gadamer suggests that once the phenomenological turn is taken, it then requires an additional turn which joins the subject with Other in shared understanding. In this regard I suggested the possible directions that some conceptual emendations of Gadamer's thesis might take us, and gave special reference to the ways in which such emendations might be implemented in ethnographic work. Both my critique and emendation were meant to underscore the need for a joining of subject and Other not merely as this might represent an occasion for understanding Other, nor merely for the understanding of self, but for a shared understanding that opens up a newly formed terrain upon which self-reflection and ideology critique may find suitable and just intersubjective grounding. (shrink)
This article examines strands of an intellectual history in Media and Cultural Studies and Science and Technology Studies in both of which researchers were prompted to take up ethnography. Three historical phases of this process are identified. The move between phases was the result of particular displacements and contestations of perspective in the research procedures within each discipline. Thus concerns about appropriate contextualization led to the eventual embrace of anthropological ethnographic methods. The article traces the subsequent emergence of a (...) ‘crisis of context’ in the deployment of ethnography within these disciplines. The analysis of these historical changes is informed by a particular depiction of Euro-American knowledge conventions. The article suggests that the limits currently perceived for ethnography are a specific instance of the more general limits now recognized for these knowledge conventions. (shrink)
The article defines a new referential problem of ethnographic description: the verbalization of the “silent” dimension of the social. As a documentary procedure, description has been devalued by more advanced recording techniques that set a naturalistic standard concerning the reification of qualitative “data.” I discuss this standard from the perspective of the sociology of knowledge and replace it by a challenge unknown to all empirical procedures relying on primary verbalizations of informants. Descriptions have to solve the problems of the voiceless, (...) the silent, the unspeakable, the pre-linguistic, and the indescribable. Ethnography puts something into words, which did not exist in language before. To respond to this task, descriptions have to turn away from the logic of recording and develop into a theory-oriented research practice. (shrink)
Research and pedagogy in the field of morality and moral education has long been dominated by philosophical and psychological disciplines. Although sociological studies and theorising in the field have not been absent, it has been limited and non?systematic. Drawing on a study that investigated the lived morality of a group of young South Africans growing up in the aftermath of Apartheid and in the townships of Cape Town, this paper surveys the historical contribution made by sociologists to the study of (...) morality and introduces two sociological notions of importance to moral education research and practice: ?moral ecology? and ?moral capital?. Employing Bronfenbrenner?s ecological systems theory it describes the moral life as an ecology of interconnecting systems, complex antinomies, diverse codes, multiple positionings, discordant processes and competing influences, over time and on multiple levels. Moral capital, draws on Bourdieu?s work on capitals and is described in two ways. First, as a dialectic, such that young people living in poverty identify how being ?good? can be translated into economic capital, which in turn enables them to remain ?good?. Second, it asks, what are the necessary elements of moral capital that young people need in order to be good and so attain the economic future to which they aspire? The paper concludes by noting how a sociology of moral education contributes to understanding the relationship between poverty and morality, including the social reproduction of morality; and its relevance for moral education research and practice. (shrink)
In traditional ethnographies, it is customarily assumed that the field researcher is an outsider who seeks to acquire an insider’s understanding of the social world being investigated. While conducting field research projects on education and tourism in Trinidad (West Indies) we found that the standard distinction between insider and outsider became problematic for us. Our experiences can be understood in terms of two competing conceptions of fieldwork. One, rooted in classical ethnography, views fieldwork as a process whereby the researcher (...) learns to translate the cultural practices of a little-known or misunderstood group into terms understandable to the ethnographic audience. The other, growing out of the institutional ethnography approach pioneered by Dorothy E. Smith, views fieldwork as a process of mapping the relations that govern an institutional complex. In the latter approach, local experiences provide the point of departure for exploring a wider set of social arrangements. In this article, we treat our own fieldwork experiences as points of departure for a reflexive examination of this alternative ethnographic strategy. (shrink)
This paper explores the perceptions and experiences of four doctoral researchers to examine how research ethics committee (REC) processes have shaped and influenced specific health-based ethnographic studies. This paper considers how a universal tightening of ethical REC scrutiny at university level, as well as those governing the health and social care sector in the United Kingdom, impacts upon social research involving the inclusion of participants from certain groups. Increased restrictions in ethics scrutiny is justified as protecting vulnerable people from intrusive (...) research and is embedded in legislation, specifically the UK Mental Capacity Act 2005. The general international trend towards greater ethical scrutiny is heralded as an uncontested social good, yet this unquestioned assumption is tested in relation to qualitative social research methodologies that seek to explore the experiences of ?vulnerable? individuals. It is consequently argued that ethics review restrictions are in danger of disenfranchising sectors of the community, excluding them from engaging in social research activities that would serve to highlight their experiential and lived conditions. The enhanced bureaucratic control of the doctoral process in conjunction with the REC is also discussed as inhibiting proposed studies. (shrink)
While anonymity is a widely-held goal in research-ethics review policies, it is a virtually unachievable goal in ethnographic and qualitative research. This paper explores how anonymity is undermined in the data-gathering, analysis, and publication stages in ethnography. It also examines problems associated with maintaining a collective identity. What maintains anonymity, however, are the natural accretions of daily life, the underuse of data, and the remoteness of place and time between the gathering-data stage and the eventual publications of findings.
Introduction -- The muse of paralysis -- Horizon of conquest: Eugene Fromentin's Algerian narratives -- Slow progress: Jean Paulhan and Madagascar -- Frustration: Michel Leiris -- Atopia: Roland Barthes -- The wake of Ulysses.
In search of salvation on the Stroganov estates -- Faith, family, and land after emancipation -- Youth : exemplars of rural socialism -- Elders : Christian ascetics in the Soviet countryside -- New risks and inequalities in the household sector -- Which khoziain? whose moral community? -- Society, culture, and the churching of Sepych -- Separating post-Soviet worlds? : priestly baptisms and priestless funerals.
Anthropologists have long wrestled with their impact upon the people they study. Historically, the discipline has served and subverted colonial agendas, but views itself traditionally as an advocate for the disempowered and as an instrument of public policy. Marketing is now among the pre-eminent institutions of cultural stability and change at work on the planet. Currently, ethnography is assuming a growing importance in the marketer’s effort to influence the accommodation and resistance of consumers to the neocolonial forces of globalization. (...) The ethical consequences of market-oriented ethnography are explored in this essay. (shrink)
The Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) project represented here through papers by Thomas Lewis, Aaron Stalnaker, Hans Lucht, and Lee Yearley (with responses) was motivated by the judgment that the trend toward a focus on virtue ethics, with attendant concern for techniques of forming selves, creates an opportunity for a dialogue with ethnographers. I argue that the CSWR essays neglect social and institutional considerations, as well as overdrawing the distinction between “formalist” and virtue approaches to the study (...) of comparative ethics. (shrink)
This paper explores the ways in which trust and distrust, especially among relative strangers, are connected to social identities and locations. It begins by sketching an account of interpersonal trust, emphasizing the role that socially salient identities, based in part upon cultural figurations, play in their development. It then contends that these cultural figurations both foster and result from distrust of specific social groups, including African Americans, the poor, and (some) women. Treating social roles and relations as central to moral (...) analysis enables an understanding of the injustice of some forms of social distrust which does not imply that one individual’s distrust of another is culpable in a straightforward way. The paper then develops the claim that one’s social location can affect the moral desirability of trust and distrust, concluding that social distrust can sometimes function as a kind of dissident attitude, a political stance with emancipatory potential. (shrink)
The Saami assert that "to move on is better than to stay put" (jot'tit lea buorit go orrot). The senior (in more ways than one) author, Myrdene Anderson, found as a Saami ethnographer that her life history resonated well with this Saami philosophy. In addition, Anderson had adopted from her own heritage the adage that "one can't hit a moving target". The Saami would also be comfortable with that formula. Together, one might minimally collapse and paraphrase both adages as: "a (...) rolling agent invests in the moment". Devika Chawla, the junior author, interrogates Anderson in nuancing this philosophy. To what degree is our research overdetermined and underdetermined by such factors as life history, culture, personality, and narrative reflections? The inquiry proceeds to unpack the opacities and transparencies in semiosic constructions. (shrink)