All Our Kin

All Our Kin

All Our Kin

All Our Kin

Synopsis

"This landmark study debunked the misconception that poor families were unstable and disorganized. Here is the chronicle of a young white woman's sojourn into The Flats, an African-American ghetto comm"

Excerpt

This introduction anticipates curiosity about how a young white woman could conduct a study of black family life, and provides a basis for evaluating the reliability and quality of the data obtained.

The questions raised relate to a broad spectrum of questions fundamental to social analysis. Is it possible for an outsider who symbolizes the dominant culture to enter a black community, win the community's participation and approval, acquire reliable data, and judge its reliability? What roles can the researcher assume? Can the observer grasp how his questions are interpreted by the informants? Can the observer discover rules used by those studied for managing their daily affairs? Can the observer distinguish his own theories for making sense of the data from the meanings given by community members in their everyday life? How do the initial channels chosen to gain an entrée into a community affect the findings and biases of an anthropological field study?

In both industrial and nonindustrial societies, researchers have typically established their first contacts with men who hold power—the colonial administrators, tribal chiefs, local mayors, and judges. These men draw upon their status in the community and favors owed to them to usher the researchers into the community, the first link in what becomes a chain of introductions. Anyone proceeding through other channels runs the risk of offending those in power and provoking an invitation to leave the community.

Within most black communities in the United States today, power is divided among the older generation of professionals in the black establishment and the younger activist leaders and . . .

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