Journeys through Ethnography: Realistic Accounts of Fieldwork

Journeys through Ethnography: Realistic Accounts of Fieldwork

Journeys through Ethnography: Realistic Accounts of Fieldwork

Journeys through Ethnography: Realistic Accounts of Fieldwork

Synopsis

This is a collection of real-life experiences of fieldwork, including accounts from Alma Gottlieb, Philip Graham and Jay MacLeod. The book discusses the problems involved in fieldwork and ways of dealing with them.

Excerpt

Annette Lareau and Jeffrey Shultz

"The longest journey begins with one step."

At one point or another in our lives, we are all beginners. We begin college, a first job, a first love affair, and a first research project. We bring a great deal to these new situations, including our temperament, previous education, and family situations. Yet, as adults, we also learn. in romantic relationships, couples report having to learn how to interact successfully with their partners. College students report being better at reading, studying, paper writing, and test taking as seniors than as freshmen. They have learned how to be students while they were students. Now close to graduating, some view they have finally mastered the role.

Ideally, of course, we would have the necessary information in hand before we needed it. We would already know, without being told, what makes a loved one angry or frustrated. All students would be spared the frustration of working hard on a paper and having it not be well received. Especially, researchers would never make mistakes.

Indeed, some individuals go through life believing that they should know how to do something ahead of time. in this view, mistakes are aberrations. After making a mistake, individuals can torture themselves with repeated accusations and self-blame. They see their foibles as an indication of their own lack of capability as a person. Some plunge into despair and conclude they will never sustain a romantic relationship, succeed in college, or complete a valuable research project.

Nevertheless, the reality is that learning is a process and that mistakes, including costly ones, are integral to that process. Although reading, teaching, and guidance are helpful, there are key aspects--for example, of romantic relationships, college course work, and research methodology--

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