02 March 2008

Ethnography Outcome #3

Define ethnography

Ethnography – a practical applied primary fieldwork methodology within cultural anthropology gathering of data about community or the culture, filtered through practical experience of the researcher ,and , mostly represents qualitative methodology of research. Data gather by immersing of the researcher in the cultural environment. Ethnography - that you do at first to receive the information and it can be described as a representation. All received information could be estimate in cultural analysis.

Explain the important aspects of the ethnographic method

As we know, Anthropology , first of all, is empirical endeavor. The empiricism* principle is crucial aspect from philosophical assumptions, and it underlies anthropological methodology. The empirical approach means that things about which anthropologists can speak, using human feelings, and it is a basis of the realistic approach . Which essence consists that is real, the validity and that it is accessible to us through our direct supervision and interactions.
Ethnography - qualitative methodology of research and primary method within cultural anthropology. The ethnography has many aspects to it, but participating supervision is mostly often used. To make ethnography means to be involved on that you study, testing it directly on yourself, becoming a part of community of people thus sometimes even suffer on yourself of their difficulty and experience. There are two categories of research methodology: qualitative and quantitative. Quantitative methods concentrate on cases which can be counted and presented in numerical expression. Qualitative methods concentrate on qualities and features of objects or events which cannot be grasped or presented in the numeric form.
Obviously, that Anthropology takes more all interests in the results of qualitative methodological researches, but quite often quantitative methods also can give the important helpful information, as we see it from Claire Sterk's article “Prostitution in the Era of Aids”. At reading of this article we pay special attention on types of data which are represented by the ethnographer as they connect each other, and how they have been collected. We can notice easily also, how skillfully author uses these two types (qualitative and quantitative) thus does not oppose them each other . Anthropologist successfully uses both methods more likely as means to think, what data can be effectively collected in the given situation and as the various collected data can support full ethnographic endeavor.

*empiricism philosophy the doctrine that all knowledge of matters of fact derives from experience and that the mind is not furnished with a set of concepts in advance of experience.

Identify specific ethnographic techniques

In ethnographic research are used interview, conversations, reviews, supervision, personal participation, video a tape-recording, and many other methods for acquisition and information registration. There are many kinds ethnographic interviews, but they make three main categories: Formal, semiformal and informal. In ethnography are used methods of residing in community to participate and observe in their direct cultural environment thus testing for itself many unforeseen challenges. Ethnographers write the detailed plans that they will study but when they reach to object of researches for gathering information ,and often all depends on skill to communicate and ability to make trustful relations. It is considered that the ethnography has one big lack –display of investigated cultural events subjectively. That is, ethnographers pass the collected information through the filter of his outlook. But the subjective nature of understanding of cultural events through own experience it is faster one of ethnography strengths. After all staying long time in other cultural environment the ethnographer always is exposed powerful enculturation and accuracy of research can suffer from it finally. Obviously , that reasonable ethnographic subjective outlook is necessary for the researcher , after all , it gives much enough clearness in confused situations. Though, it is necessary to note that excessive subjective estimation is also detriment to the real information and is dangerous.
The ethnography - methodology of field researches which can be described as the presented details of culture in a genre of the academic letter. Ethnography product is called an ethnography and also can be described as detail of particular culture.
The bias, ethnocentrism and reflective character are in a basis of any ethnographic research. Ethnographers tend to reflect cultural event in written details in representation. Thus, the good ethnographer allows to understand clearly the promptings, interests, and predispositions, which it or it can bring in a situation of research and which can influence events and as they are presented. In other words, knowing it is more about the one who does representation, helps us to understand better, what aspects of research can be result of a bias of the researcher and its own cultural background. Modern ethnographers try to allow objects of the researches to speak with the reader through the medium of the ethnographer and ethnography. It more often it is reached by use dialogue and direct quotes which play a key role in the description and an explanation of investigated culture.

Identify a subject or cultural event which can be studied
Gather data using ethnographic techniques.
Use ethnographic data to write a description of the cultural event
you identified (representation)

(I’ve united all three answers - in one)

In time ethnographic studies it was offered to us to use in practice methodology of ethnographic researches directly on territory of college campus. At first sight it seemed to me it is a little strange and unusual and I could not imagine at once what cultural events can occur in the following of 30 minutes round us. But, after all our life is extremely various and practically all can be object of anthropological research. After some meditations our group has decided to visit cafeteria where at this time; as usually, there were many people. Students, teachers and simple visitors sat at the cafe and not only ate, drank coffee and drinks but also did the homework , read books and held conversation with friends. And suddenly I have heard scraps of phrases of conversation Russian -speaking group of people which have strongly interested me.
These people emotionally enough discussed event of one car accident and that the insurance company has unfairly given up in insurance payments to one of them.
More recently my car has been damaged on a parking lot near shop. Representatives insurance companies have carelessly done investigation and malefactor have not been found out. Result was the same - to me has been given up in payments. After that case I still had impression that the insurance companies are created only for pumping out of money.
I have asked of the permission participate in conversation on purpose to carry out short ethnographic research. The goal was to know - how people from former USSR relate to the American insurance companies, and, was more exact in this connection, what new it has been introduced in their culture. In the form of informal conversation, I have remembered about the unsuccessful experience of relations with the insurance company that has caused genuine interest of participants of conversation. As it has appeared from five persons were sitting behind a table two were participants of car accident and not only cars have been damaged, but as well suffered their health. At third participant the car has been damaged at night on a parking nearby apartment. That was amazing - any of them has not received insurance payments, and after all they have been insured in different (enough famous) insurance companies.
What is essence of the given cultural event?
What people from the former Soviet Union knew about obligatory insurance of cars? Anything, because in these countries was not obligatory insurance of cars., and anybody from them, never insured cars before arrival to the USA. I have asked them a question
“What did you expect before arrival to the USA from car insurance?”
The man 54 years old from Armenia has answered shortly -
Security and fairness”. The woman from Ukraine 35 years old who has seriously suffered after car accident has answered - “Earlier , I hoped that the insurance should compensate a health damage that the injured person should pay medical accounts” Young man from Belarus at which at night near apartment someone damaged the bumper of his car and has been into smithereens broken ,have sadly told - “I did not expect that car insurance all covers, but that the person having expensive enough insurance at all will not receive anything-for me it there was a shock
We know that every time when we do ethnographic field researches, and collect the information we should distinguish among three­ fundamental aspects of human experience: what people know what people do, and which ­ things people do and use .We speak about them as cultural knowledge,­ cultural behavior, and cultural artefacts. Thus, cultural analysis works from supervision and research of different kind behavior and artefacts to receive cultural knowledge.
In performed ethnographic research we have collected the information in the form of informal conversation and we have learnt that all these people have gone through transformation of the beliefs (have gone through enculturation). It is necessary to recollect that they had lived in the countries with totalitarian model and there the simple person felt itself not protected from an arbitrariness of the authorities. They went to live in the free country of free people and they pin their faith on the USA as the country of justice and law. Vehicle Insurance for them was seemed that absolute guarantee of lawful fair indemnification in case of car accident. That were their
cultural knowledge (hopes, belief).
What has occurred to them after unsuccessful experience with the insurance companies?
It was in certain degree of enculturation process.
As a result of all these unfair events these people have gone through full disappointment in system of insurance of cars in the USA. Though , as each of them dealt with the different insurance companies , but nobody has received even cent of insurance payments. But most of all I was shocked with those that all these people after unsuccessful litigations with the insurance companies were disappointed in insurance cars system in the USA and partially in judicial system of the USA that finally has led to their NEW BELIEF (Cultural knowledge) – that in the USA the insurance companies do not protect their clients and more likely deceive them and the suffered person not always can protect his legitimate rights in court.

More likely, these people are not right also I hope that their conclusions will change in due course on more positive. Certainly, not all so badly with the law in the USA.
But ,on this example we have tracked , as it is possible to work ethnography , and what important things it is possible to learn having carried out even short field ethnography researches.

1 comment:

Matt Archer said...

Great work with the conceptual discussion of ethnography and great work with finding an interesting angle for data gathering as well.

You've demonstrated mastery of the Ethnography learning unit.