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Ethnography in Anthropology

In describing and interpreting human cultures, anthropologists have long relied on ethnographic fieldwork, including participant observation.

1. What makes this research method uniquely challenging and effective?

Need help in answering the above, particularly related to the following:
1. challenges linked to interviewing and informants
2. challenges linked to gender, both of the subject and the anthropologist.
3. Of what use might the findings be for meeting the unique challenges of our globalizing world?

Solution Preview

Dear Student,
Hello. The questions you posed above (see original problem) require an analytical answer from an ethnographic perspective, therefore the solution below is concise and precise. Remember there are varied other perspectives one can take as ethnographers are influenced by philosophies and theories. As an ethnographer however, the following viewpoints ring true for me. I hope this provides the guidance you seek.

OTA 105878/Xenia Jones
Ethnographic Fieldwork: A unique perspective

When creating an 'ethnography' anthropologists and sociologists follow the quantitative method - that is, building up a picture of a sociological phenomenon under investigation by gathering as much details as possible - the messier, the better. The more details gathered equates to a more 'complex picture' of the sociological phenomenon allowing data gathered to become a multi-dimensional source of information where patterns and structures emerge. In ethnography, data comes in many forms - text, audio, video, oral histories, etc. They can be gathered via library research, via participant observation, via immersion and via interviews. The quantitative method in creating ethnographies follow the scientific method thus:

 Hypothesis Creation
 Listing down of possible key questions to be investigated in the Research
 Creation of experiment/research plan/design
 Laying down the scope and limitation of the the research including methods, theories and philosophies
 Gathering of Data following the Experiment/Research plan/design
 Data analysis to discern patterns
 Testing of hypothesis vis-a-vis results
 Conclusion and Findings

If one looks at the method above, ...

Solution Summary

The solution is a 962-word APA format essay that describes and explains the varied principles behind the use of ethnography in anthropology and related disciplines, especially in studies seeking to interpret and describe human cultures. Participant observation as a method is also explained, particularly the challenges behind as well as the effectiveness of the method including challenges related to informants & interviews, gender and subjectivity as well as globalization. A word version of the solution is attached for easy printing.