Mini-ethnography of a community, business or cultural practice

Mini-ethnography of a community, business or cultural practice

Mini-ethnography of a community, business or cultural practice


Last updated on October 2nd, 2023 at 02:36 pm

The foundation of this mini-ethnography of a community, business or cultural practice is the knowldge that an ethnography involves studying and writing about a particular group, community, or subculture. Your role in this mini-ethnography assignment is that of a primary researcher. The point of ethnography is to watch, to try to understand what’s going on, and to ask questions to test your observations. You will become an expert on the community and how it works. We’ll tackle this in steps. Please note that you will not be able to complete the work the night before it is due. You are responsible for budgeting your time in advance. You are required to work with the community you are studying, and around their meeting times and rules. You should not change anything about the community for the benefit of this assignment.

Here are the steps and assignments associated with this project:

1. Set up a Zoom meeting with me for the week of June 28 to discuss the community, business or cultural practice you will be researching.

You must have the setting for your ethnography decided before July 4. Here are some examples to generate ideas: – Barber shops, nursing homes, firefighters, church groups, self-help groups, emergency medical squads, athletic teams, day care centers, businesses of all sorts (fast food restaurants, stores, bars), farmers and farm families, hang-outs with regulars(coffee houses, etc.), fraternities, sororities, clubs, internet forums, exercise groups, fringe groups (punk rockers, hipsters, etc.), theatre troupes The most important factor in your choice should be access to the community to complete your observations and interviews (i.e. ability to complete the assignment on time). Zooming with me is a 10 point assignment.

2. Mapping exercise:

All anthropologists describe the site of their ethnographic research. This helps them to place and describe the relations between sociocultural behavior and physical environment. While this is a fairly easy assignment, don’t take it too lightly. It requires you to observe closely and to see the familiar as if it were unfamiliar. Stepping away from the usual to see the familiar as if it were unfamiliar. The map of the site should include a visual drawing and some written description of the site. This should include things like lighting, temperature, maybe weather if appropriate. This piece of your ethnography is due before Saturday, July 11, 2020 11:59 pm. Possible points 50 points.

3. Participant observation:

Observe your group for 2 hours (1 hour at a time or 2 at once) and collect field notes and turn them in by July 18, 2020 11:59 pm. As you observe, write down everything you see. While you may not recognize something as important when you first see it, your observation may reveal more as you revisit your notes.

Your job is to do the following:

  • Notice what is interesting about this community and the way community members interact with each other.
  • Attempt to understand how the people you’re observing view their world. This means you must observe closely, take profuse notes, and distance yourself from the site you’re observing. Remember: you are an observer, not a participant.

4. If you are able, interview at least one participant of the group, taking notes throughout.

You will turn in these notes also by July 18, 2020 11:59pm. Interviewing someone is not required for this abbreviated version of the course. But an interview will make your ethnography richer.

*As a rule, individuals being observed or interviewed should be kept anonymous in your writing.

5. Write a report (a paper that is about 1000 words or 4 pages) of what you have found using the following three sections: –

a. Positioning yourself as the researcher:

  • Why did you choose this site and culture?
  • How did you feel about it going in according to your own history (age, race, gender, background, etc.)?
  • What assumptions did you make about this culture?

b. What goes on here: What can you say about this subgroup or cultural practice? This section is the bulk of your paper. Drawing from your fieldnotes, tell us what you saw and heard. Talk about your artifacts, interviews, and the patterns and rituals you observed.

  • What are the “rules” of this place?
  • Which way is the right way to behave?
  • How do you know who is an outsider?

Here you are creating a picture of your culture, so don’t forget about dialogue, descriptions, etc.

c. Reflections:

  • What have you learned about yourself in the process of studying this subculture?  For example, if you researched a comic book store, do you now understand what aspects of the store surprised you or intrigued you?
  • What have you learned about the group you studied or society as a whole? This section, along with your positioning section, is the place where you return to your thesis and make sure you’ve proven it.
  • Instead of giving a comprehensive overview, you should concentrate on specific points.
  • You should not only restate what others have told you, but should develop your own conclusions from your observations. However, all of these conclusions must be supported by observation or other research. Detailed descriptions and quotes must be included for your Ethnography to be complete.


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