By: Gisela MartizQualitative Research II Images source: Google Images
“…participant observation involves not only gaining access to and immersing oneself in new social worlds, but also producing written accounts and descriptions that bring versions of these worlds to others.” (p.352)”
“Writings produced in or in close proximity to “the field” “A form of representation, that is a way of reducing just-observed events, persons and places to written accounts.” “Descriptive accounts of people, scenes and dialogue, as well as personal experiences and reactions…” Some field researchers consider fieldnotes to be writings that record both what they learn and observe about the activities of others and their own actions, questions and reflections. But others insist on a sharp distinction between records of what others said and did - the data of fieldwork - and writings incorporating their own thoughts and reactions.
For the purposes of your research, where would observations take place? Once you’re in the field, how do you select what to observe? How would you balance how much to observe vs. taking notes while observing?
Whether, when, where and how to start? “Ethnographers approaches to making jottings vary widely both across and within projects by their understanding of the setting and by their relationships within it” (p. 357) Mental notes=
Jotted notes: Assuming the “note-taker” role right away! Getting to a more private place for those ‘covert jottings’ Jotting down notes upon leaving the field. Images source: Google Images
How the fieldworker emotionally responds to events may reflect what occurs in the setting. Emotional reactions provide analytic leads. Recording emotions over time allow the ethnographer identify biases and prejudices, as well as changing attitudes toward people and events.
Informants voices must be represented in final texts, and a way to do so is by recreating their voices through excerpts. How can we represent our informants’ voices in our final work? Images source: Google Images
Foley was considered an “outsider” in both Cristal City and North Town.“The kids were constantly trying to guess exactly what I was going to write. Many wanted to know how I lived and who paid me.” (p.218) How being an “outsider” affected Foley in his role as an observer in Cristal City? In what ways was his experience different in North Town? What can we learn from his experiences in these two scenarios to be applied to our own research?
Some ethnographers use theory to try to emancipate thoseobserved, such as the articles provided by authors in the bookedited by Anyon.
• Do you think the researchers were successful in their goals?• How does this apply to our research?• How can we use theorizing with participants as a method?• When is it appropriate?