Friday, July 13, 2012

Notes on ethnographic notes

Pseudo-procrastinatory/preparatory/general knowledge-up-keep-y notes about how to take ethnographic field notes, ostensibly to jog my memory before commenting on students' attempts to write such notes.

From Atkinson & Hammersley's Ethnography: Principles in Practice. (Ch 7) (Note to self: this is from 1995 edition. 3rd edition pub'd in 2007 is out.)

Fieldnotes: relatively concrete descriptions of social processes and their contexts.

Adopt a wide focus

No attempt to code systematically

"Write down what you see and hear." (BUT: What should you write down; how and when should you write it?)

Use of actual words important.

Balance: concrete and descriptive, yet large scope.

Record speech and action: who, where, what time, what circumstances.

Spradley suggests trying to keep track of the following as a kind of checklist:

Space, Actor, Activity, Object, Act, Event, Time, Goal, Feeling


Thin vs thick description: link.
Thin description: the bare details. The essentials and nothing more.