5. Term Group Project Short Ethnography (9-15 pages)
Find a partner or two to do the following assignment.There will be one paper and one grade for each group.
This exercise is to write a short ethnography of a cultural scene.A cultural scene is any place where people get together to perform some tasks, or where they engage in some activity.A lunchroom is a cultural scene, as are classes, tattoo parlors, bars, fraternities, sororities, labs, the library, sporting events (both from the team’s and the fans’ point of view), a neighborhood center, church, synagogue, mosque, club, video arcade, government offices, concerts, stores in a mall, local political party organizations, etc.
What I would like you to do is write a short ethnography of the cultural scene you pick.Like the anthropologist you read about in your textbook, you need to find a place you are interested in and a question you want to answer.You will need to spend some time at the cultural scene, so make it something you like.You are trying to take off peoples’ cultural glasses and look through them to see how and why they see, and deal with the world as they do.
There is a process to this, in 3 stages.The first is to create field notes.You have an example of field notes in shared files.Write these out.We will swap and your fellow students will comment on and assess your work.Then your group will submit a first draft, which I will grade and comment on.The final step, due on the last day of class, is to submit the final, polished, proof-read version.
OFF LIMITS Never pick a scene that you are part of- your sorority, church, club, class, whatever..You simply cannot be objective.
Remember, I would like you to work with one or two people in your section, so that the time burden is minimized.
“How do you go about doing this ethnography?” you are probably asking by this time.The exact method will vary according to your chosen topic, but start with the idea that ethnographies are like stories with a final message or moral.The characters in your story are the people in the scene, especially your informants.The message or moral is the answer to the question you posed, which you get by seeing the underlying culture pattern you learn from this one, particular story.Your methods will include:
Participant observation (the most important technique),
Other data gathering (not surveys).
The structure of the report is:
1. The cultural scene and the guiding question you asked, as well as smaller questions that are implied by the big question.
2. Methodology.How did you collect information?
3.Necessary background information.
4. Observations (see the write-up on how to do ethnography paper for guidance, this reflectsall parts of the ethnographic method)
5. Conclusion, relates your observations to the answer of your guided question