ROUGH LECTURE OUTLINE - Spradley & Kirk and Miller

DON'T FORGET: From Spradley 1) fieldwork is the hallmark of cultural anthropology. 2) Ethnography is one form of fieldwork 3) At root, ethnography is the study of culture. Why study ethnography? First, to understand. Second, to look for commonalities among people, to look for differences, to generate theory, and to understand ourselves better. The goal of ethnography, as for all research, is to try to make society better. The question is: how do we do this and still make it scientific? How does ethnography, or any field work, differ from journalism, storytelling, r just hanging out and telling each other stories. What makes us a science is that we have rules that we follow. KIRK AND MILLER (Another summary) Kirk and Miller give us a start in thinking about reliability and validity. Like Spradley, they see qualitative research as something we do when we study people in their own territory and when we interact with them in their own language. We call this naturalistic research. Qualitative research has two meanings Kirk and Miller tell us. On one hand, it can mean same or different, such as a zero or a one. This can be numerical research. However for Kirk and Miller, quality connotes nature as opposed to quantity. In other words, qualitative research does not use numbers, but uses descriptions. But, this does not mean that qualitative research is subjective. It studies subject of things objectively. Some basic assumptions of qualitative research, as for all research, are these: 1) first there is in empirical reality out there. 2) Second, not all understandings of that world, of that reality, our equal. It is largely up to us to follow the rules of science to find out which interpretations are the most objective and which aren't. 3) Third we have rules that we use to establish validity and reliability. *ONCE MORE*: ETHNOGRAPHY is as much about developing OUR OWN skills, seeing "what's not there," and reading social cues (as we would a "text") as about theory. All is important. PRECISION IS NOT ONLY IN OUR LOGIC AND ANALYSIS, BUT IN THE SKILL OF OUR PERCEPTIONS AND RECORDING THEM I. REVIEW: A. Sticking to data, "hearing data," bracketing our assumptions B. Different types of data, and principles apply whether interviewing, observing, or interpreting images or documents C. Whatever our method, "Language" and symbols are the key. Remember: **Spradley uses example of "tramps," "homeless," "bums" and how those terms shape what the researcher thinks (see Nels Anderson's "The Hobo" II. Spradley: Chapter 3 A. Informants ("conversational partners") are "knoweldgeable sources, familiar with the culture) B. The role of researcher: 1) Subjects (beware of defining them in a way that boxes you in) 2) Respondents: Anybody you talk to. YOU must make them good respondents with questions and rapport 3) Actors: People who are the object of observation (See how Spradley sorted this out on p 33: His point - seemingly different responses can form a pattern (synchronic, right?) 4) Dangers of talking to friends - be careful! 5) Should "informants" have access to your notes, as Spradley says? C. Review ethical principles: (See our handouts and earlier lectures) III. Getting Started: Spradley--Step one A. Locating an Informant 1) Figure out what you want to know and how you want to ask it 2) Identify those most likely to have the information B. Remember: Not all "interviews" are formal--many ways to "talk" IV: Step Two: Interviewing A. "Friendly Conversation" (informal, often ice-breakig) 1) "greetings" - breaking the ice 2) Lack of purpose/"winging it" - often fishing 3) Avoiding repitition 4) Asking questions (subtle and incisive) 5) Expressing interest (motivation, drawing out, pursuit) 6) Expressing ignorance ("it pays to be stupid") 7) Taking turns (don't interrupt--let them talk) 8) Abbreviating (beware of "short-hand" code) 9) Pausing (it's ok for silence, sometimes) 10) "Leave taking" - how to exit B. Ethnographic interview (more formal and prepared): THREE KEY STEPS 1) EXPLICIT PURPOSE (what's happening?) 2) Ethnographic explanations (get full picture from THEM) a. Project explanations to subject b. Recording explanations (let them know what you're doing) c. Native language explanations (get in THEIR terms) d. Interview explanations (direction for informations) e. Question explanations ("steering and pumping") 3) Ethnographic questions a. Descriptive ("describe what you did when you got out of bed") b. Structural ("step by step, how do you join a sorority?") c. Contrast ("What's the difference between the Cubs and Sox")

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