Sunday, December 23, 2007

On Doing Fieldwork

Below are some basic categories for organizing your thoughts for the Weblog methods reflections:

• Choosing a site (our class, informants)
• Getting permission
• First visits/first impressions
• Building trust and gaining rapport
• New insights: 2nd and 3rd visits: a different understanding now
• Writing it up: log/notes/assignments/final sections
• Working with informants: those who helped, those who didn’t
• Collecting information: logistics, appointments, note taking, etc. (what worked, what did not)
• Different points of view (“structured watching/listening”): observing v. participating v. interviewing
• Significant experiences: successful day (why?), failure (why?), breakthroughs, awkward moments, ethical questions
• Final reflections on the process (treat this as conclusion): “doing fieldwork,” impact of your presence/position ("subjective/objective") on their behavior, thoughts on fieldwork in "adolescent culture"

Below are some further ideas from anthropologists in the field:

Very useful synthesis of field interviewing principles in ethnographic research:

Here's a briefer statement on writing up fieldnotes (with some examples) from the University of Pennsylvania Anthropology Department:

...another from Penn on interviewing (again with examples):

Here's a useful site (lots of tips) from the Association of Personal Historians on "getting started" with life history storytelling:

If you are having trouble with Assignment #2: "personal memory/reflection": My Adolescent World," take heart and some craft from Sharon Lippincott, a self-described "ordinary" person, who discusses "The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing":

You will probably want to give "group interviewing" a try. Here's a good outline in the "Methods Toolbox" from the Chronic Poverty Research Centre in England:

Reports From the Field

...a really great site by anthropologist Laura Zimmer Tamakoshi who takes you through every step of her fieldwork in New Guinea from the planning to the final write-up:

Not all fieldwork has to be done in primitive/traditional societies. Here's an interesting faculty/student fieldwork collaboration looking at the high tech cultures in the Silicon Valley of California:

Anthropologist Giovanna Bacchiddu recounts her Chilean fieldwork experiences: before, during, and after:

...and a briefer statement by Tom Fricke, Director of the Center for the Ethnography of Everyday Life, at the University of Michigan. Professor Fricke explains how he came to do fieldwork with North Dakota farming families:


toni collins said...

Thank you for posting this, as it makes for a great jumping off point for the weblog. I was especially interested in the articles...especially the second one.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, I agree!