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Anthropology Ethnographic Project Description
“Experience of another culture can be gained by work in any other society, not necessarily an isolated and technologically simple one, and, in modern society, can complement the work of other disciplines” (Margaret Mead BlackberryWinter 1972: 296).
Goal: The object of this assignment is to develop your observation and interpretation skills through the description of culturally determined behavior in a cultural scene or subsystem that is unfamiliarto you. This process will assist you in recognizing your own ethnocentrism. You will select a field site where you will attend and participate in events during a series of visits to the site. You will use your own observations and analyses to complete a final paper about your research experience. The project will be submitted in three different phases:
Description of assignment
Completed Proposal Form
Completed Field notes Worksheet
Written Project Report
Phase 1: Submit Project ProposaL
Use the Project Proposal handout to write a 1 paragraph statement identifying the field site/cultural system that you would like to study. Briefly describe the setting/group and discuss your basic research strategy (i.e. attend meetings, visits on particular days/times, any key informants, etc.), and answer the questions addressing any potential challenges in gaining access to the site.
Phase 2: Preliminary Description & Analysis-Submit Field note
After choosing your cultural scene and conducting your first visit, you are to use the Field Notes Worksheet to write up an objective description of the setting, participants and events; you will also discuss emic/etic perspectives and list significant norms, values, symbols, classifications of reality and worldviews. The worksheet will be handed out when you receive your approved proposal. You will also have space to write about your not-so-objective reactions to the events and experiences you observed and your plan of action for future visits.
Phase 3: Submit Final Project Report (7-8 pages) [10%]
After getting feedback from me on your first visit field notes, you are to visit your cultural scene at least 2 more times. You should look for what is the same and what is different during each visit, and try to explore the cultural content of the interaction you observed by following up on the items on your plan of action from the field notes.
Choosing the cultural subsystem or event:
1. The setting should be new and unfamiliar to you (you are not a member of the culture)
2. It should be something that you can handle in terms of time (i.e. 1-3 hours per visit).
3. It should be a setting where your presence is reasonable & safe (i.e. you are invited, the event is open to the public, or you pay an admittance fee).
4. Remember this is not undercover work; please do not observe groups where confidentiality is assumed (such as AA).
5. It is a setting that you can reasonably visit 3-4 times this semester, so that you can more accurately determine what behavior is typical of the cultural subsystem you are observing.
6. There should be a core of people that get together regularly in this cultural scene, this is a way to have some consistency in a culture you only visit 2 to 3 times.
1. Plan to attend the entire event and get there early. The entrance and exit of other participants is also a part of the cultural scene you are observing.
2. Note the physical surroundings—all details about the environment are important, i.e. visual, auditory, and tactile information are relevant as well as your position in relation to the events taking place.
3. Note the age/sex/race composition or other notable characteristics of the participant population, their dress and their interaction behavior towards each other.
4. Note any responses by the participants to the event in progress as well as the behavior of people in various roles (leaders, moderators, participants, etc.)
5. If appropriate, take notes. If note taking is not possible, write an outline and fill in as many details as soon as possible after the event. The longer you wait, the more details you will forget.
Talking and Listening:
· If possible try to make small talk or ask to interview a few participants or group leaders in the event or subsystem you are observing.
· Ask people — those involved, and those observing — what their interpretations of the events/interactions are.
· Using your observations and your informants’ interpretations of their culture (emic), try to come with your own interpretations (etic) as you analyze the cultural system:
o What explanations do they give for their actions or their views? What similarities or differences are there between different people, and how might you account for them? Further, how do they account for those differences?
o Listen to what they say about themselves, about the place you are doing your research, about the role of the organization, and about the broader social issues you are interested in.
· Base your analysis on your data, but also keep in mind some of the common themes we have, or will have discussed in the course; some of the weekly lessons & readings may be especially relevant to your particular field site.
· Don’t feel like you have to talk to everyone. Some people are more open and/or knowledgeable about the culture, and will be happy to talk to you. But try to talk to at least someone from any sub-groups present that you think will have important differences in worldview (i.e. gender, age, ethnicity, role, etc.)
Organizing your data:
1. Read over your notes for consistency in the sequence of events and the participants’ reactions. Are there any patterns?
2. If you have a sense or feeling about the cultural scene you observed, what details or events in the setting contribute to that sense or support your thinking? Pay attention to those specifics, they are essential to your paper.
Some helpful suggestions when choosing and visiting your cultural scene
1. Don’t choose an event or situation that is so scary that the only thing you can observe is your own fear.
2. Don’t choose a site where you will be forced to observe or participate in illegal activities
3. Try to keep things in balance, that is, don’t participate so much that you can’t observe.
4. This assignment should expand your worldview. If possible, pick something you are unfamiliar with,
but are interested in learning more about.
Some possible fieldwork sites:
The following list is an assortment of past successful projects; use this for inspiration in choosing your own site, but please don’t limit yourself to this list, be creativewhen possible:
- Religious groups and organizations (churches, temples, mosques, bible study groups, Sunday school, youth groups, choirs, religious clubs, etc.—it is important to choose one where you are not a member)
- Clubs/hobbies (on campus interest groups, crafting clubs, gaming clubs, music/arts classes or groups, bridge/card groups, collecting clubs, fan clubs, travel clubs, cooking classes, pool halls, arcades, bingo, cultural/language clubs, etc.)
- Support group meetings (hospital groups, weight watchers, group counseling sessions, smoking cessation, health-related support groups, immigrant advocacy groups, etc.) Can be in-person, or online forums
- Volunteer organizations (medical, community, environmental, shelters, soup kitchens, etc.)
- Kids’s after school programs/childcare groups (boy/girl scouts, Boys & Girls clubs, mom’s clubs, nursery schools, etc.)
- Sports teams (high school, college, little league; anywhere you would have access to the players/coaches during practices and/or matches)
- Public entertainment/sporting events (fairs, concerts, horse races, dog shows, theater, monster truck competitions, wrestling, fashion shows, professional sports games—must attend at least 3 )CLICK HERE TO ORDER FOR THIS PAPER…………………….
- Exercise classes or groups (gyms, yoga, pilates, marital arts, weightlifting, hiking/outdoor groups, dance classes)
- Educational institutions (classrooms, universities, dorms, PTA meetings, etc.)
- Political organizations (campaigns, rallys, advocacy groups, political party students’ clubs)
- Some restaurants/coffee houses/bars (those that cater to specific groups, would need permissions)
- Specialized shops (that cater to specific groups, i.e. music stores, farmer’s markets, flea markets, craft/hobby shops, street vendors, collector’s shops)
- Personal services shops (beauty salons/barber shops, nail/tanning salons, pet grooming salons, tattoo parlors, auto repair shops, car washes)
- Places of employment (Offices, Production centers, Warehouses, with permissions)
- Parks/Public spaces (where certain groups congregate; campus commons areas, playgrounds, dog parks, state/national parks, skate board parks, campgrounds, beach, monuments, cafeterias, museums)
- Niche on-line communities (Avatar based on-line communities like Second Life, World of Warcraft, etc. or certain message board/blogs focused on a particular topic with a regular group of posters/members, on-line support groups/fan clubs)
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