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Ethnography: Qualitative Research at its Best. Lorraine Nencel Department of Social Research Methodology Vrije Universiteit, The Netherlands. Qualitative Research gives the possibility to research and analyze: complexity sensitive subjects subjects in need of exploration

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Ethnography: Qualitative Research at its Best

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    1. Ethnography: Qualitative Research at its Best Lorraine Nencel Department of Social Research Methodology Vrije Universiteit, The Netherlands

    2. Qualitative Research gives the possibility to research and analyze: complexity sensitive subjects subjects in need of exploration Discover associations and relations to be able to : contexualize explain evaluate generate

    3. ? Ethnography

    4. Research Complex Situations Holistically

    5. Facilitates zooming in into particular aspects, relations or phenomenon in the setting without losing sight of the whole

    6. Enables the researcher to understand the culture through theinterpretations, experiences and perceptions and meanings given by those living within this specific cultural context. I can’t find my tent, this is really a bummer man!

    7. Natural Setting Research is done in the unpredictable, chaos of the natural setting. This gives ethnographic research one very special attribute NAMELY:

    8. The most important research tool is: Yourself

    9. Creates and Demands the possibility • To be involved • To be Reflexive • To be creative

    10. Hammersley and Atkinson: Hoofdstuk 1: What is ethnography? “Ethnography refers primarily to a particular method or set of methods. In its most characteristic form it involves the ethnographer , participating overtly or covertly, in people’s daily lives for an extended period of time, watching what happens, listening to what is said, asking questions – in fact collecting whatever data are available to throw light on the issues that are the focus of research.”

    11. R.Emerson (2001) “Ethnography seeks to represent social “things” as they are grasped and shaped through the meaning conferring response of members. To understand the way that group members interpret the flow of events in their lives.”

    12. M.Agar (1986) Speaking of Ethnography “The social research style that emphasizes encountering alien worlds and making sense of them is called ethnography… Ethnographers set out to show how social action in one world makes sense from the point of view of another. Such work requires an intensive personal involvement, an abandonment of traditional scientific control, an improvisational style to meet situations not of the researcher’s making, and an ability to learn from a long series of mistakes. Ethnography no longer claims to describe a reality accessible by anyone using the right methods, independent of the historical cultural context of the act of describing… Ethnography is neither subjective or objective. It is interpretive, mediating two worlds through a third.

    13. C.A.Davis (1999) Reflexive Ethnography Ethnography … a research process based on fieldwork using a variety of (mainly qualitative) research techniques but including engagement in the lives of those being studied over an extended period of time. The eventual written product –an ethnography – draws its data primarily from this fieldwork experience and usually emphasises descriptive detail as a result

    14. ? What is Reflexivity

    15. C.A. Davis Reflexive Ethnography (1999: 4) “Reflexivity, broadly defined, means a turning back on oneself, a process of self reference. In the context of social research, reflexivity at its most immediately obvious level refers to the ways in which the products of research are affected by the personal and process of doing research. These effects are to be found in all the phases of the research process from initial selection of topic to final reporting of results”.


    17. We go to the field

    18. Relations

    19. Work related subjects

    20. Organisations

    21. Groeps

    22. Associations and Boards

    23. Members of Associations

    24. Political Organizations

    25. Researchg bagage ethics Theoretical assumptions Research proposal Camera, tape recorder Field methods

    26. Which methods do you use? Depends on your research • The objective of your research • Central question • Time • Type of access (are people willing to work with you, do you have permission. Do you have a room to conduct interviews, for example?

    27. Pragmatisch Toolkit • Ritchie en Lewis speak about the pragmatic toolkit • “They are encouraging greater acceptance of pragmatism in choosing the appropriate method for addressing specific research questions, rather than focusing too much on the underlying philosophical debates… Qualitative and quantitative approaches should not be seen as competing and contradictory , but should instead be viewed as complementary strategies appropriate to different types of research questions or issues” (2003: 15).

    28. Observation

    29. Observation: two types of observation • Observation used in quantitative oriented reseach (psychology, communicatian sciences- experiments) • Structured observation • Observation in qualtitative research • Direct observation • Participant observation

    30. Experimental Observation

    31. Experimental Observation • Origins positivist tradition. • Observe predefined definitions and variables in a controled environment. • Minimalizin the influence from the observer • Deductive observation.

    32. Qualitative Research Observation and Induction Directe Observation --------Participant observation Natural environemen t Inductive

    33. Holistic From a Distance To become familiar with the research setting Forces you to use your senses and not the power of the word (or the gift of gab) Observation in qualitative research

    34. Gives insight into interaction between people and in groups. • See processes in working • Can you describe your workday • Gives insight into the physical environment • Indentify things, happenings, actions which you can deeper in another phase of research (in participant observation or an interview)

    35. Observation according to Spradley • Grand Tour Observations: Identification of the broader lines • Contains a description of the physical enviroment • Describes the social situation • Mini Tour: researches the smaller aspects and experiences • Uses information that has already been collected in the grand tour • Spradley’s Matrix

    36. Fieldnotes during observation • Try to write down as much as you can. n. • Much description so that you can make a verbal photo, so that someone can feel as if they were there even if they weren’t. • Try to be as explicit as possible. • Avoid aggregate observations ( Many people came inside)

    37. Thick versus Thin description • Thin Description A group of students ran down the hall while a few others walked. • Thick Description: A group of ten students (4 girls and 6 boys) were going to their next class. THe next class began at one o’clock. It was five to one. One of the girls and four of the boys were running. Three girls were had high heels on and walked at a brisk pace, while a young man walked slowly behin him because he was using crutches.

    38. Hawthorne Effect • It is assumed that the presence of the researcher will influence the people in their environment. Consequently the researcher receives a ‘distorted’ picture of reality. • But experience learns that after the initial period people go back to what they were doing. The majority of people are too busy to keep taking into consideration that a researcher is present.

    39. If you believe in the Hawthorne effect then… • You believe that there is an objective, independent reality out there that can be observed without the researcher influencing it. • Some people think the solution is to make yourself so small as possible • The courthouse

    40. Observation and Subjectivity “Gaze”is the act of seeing; it is an act of selective perception. Much of what we see is shaped by our experiences, and our “gaze”has a direct bearing on what we think. And what we see and think …has a bearing upon what we say and what and how we write . Paul Stoller

    41. Participant Observation

    42. Tension between Participation and Observation • Participation means active and emotional participation… • Observation means conscious distance so that you can see things clearly.

    43. Covert and Overt Research

    44. Complexity of Inform Consent • Goes against the nature of qualitative research • Remnant of posivitist tradition, bio-medical sciences. • Informed consent assumes that if consent is given at the beginning than it is sufficient. Malone shows it must be an ongoing process.

    45. Covert Research • Besides the ethical problems, there are other problems • Impossible to probe analytically without participants finding it suspicious. • Singular access to a social reality • might have to participate in some unlawful events

    46. Benefits according to Lauder • Get access into places that you wouldn’t be able to get in normally. • Research which can contribute to public welfare. • Must be a balance between the potential harm to the participant and the contribution to society’s wellbeing. • Get to know the attitudes and beliefs of ordinary members about the everyday world of fringe politics.

    47. WHO DECIDES? what is a "deviant community"

    48. Example: Mystery Clients

    49. Ethics in research goes beyond informed consent.