Sociology | Topics in Qualitative Methods
S652 | 26738 | Corsaro

Topic:  Ethnography

In this course we will consider ethnography as a method of social
research as routinely practiced in sociology and anthropology.
Ethnography is both a method and a theoretical orientation in that
one’s approach to ethnography reflects a particular conception of
culture and social structure.  We will concentrate primarily on more
interpretive approaches to ethnography and culture with a focus on
collective processes of negotiation, action, and interpretive
understanding.  The particular ethnographic methods we will read
about, evaluate, and employ are routinely utilized in a range of
research areas in sociology (as well as anthropology, education,
folklore, and psychology).

A general goal of the course is for the class to engage and confront
a range of ethnographic texts (both actual ethnographic reports and
descriptive and didactic discussions of particular methods) and to
appropriate the wisdom of these texts in a series of written projects
over the course of the semester.  I will insist that the engagement
and appropriation of these texts will be primarily a collective
process.  I will do some lecturing and students will be individually
responsible for written reports.  However, I expect students to be
prepared to participate routinely in class discussions, and every
project will be dialogic in that students will actively engage each
other and me in the process of producing written assignments.

Assignments include: (1) a set of commentaries and evaluations of the
ethnography each student selects to examine for the course; (2) the
filling out of Human Subjects Proposal for the interview requirement
in the course; (3) a field note collection and evaluation project;
(4) an interview project in which each student interviews another
class member about a life transition and evaluates the interview
process; (5) a final paper in which each student does an overall
evaluation of their selected ethnography and writes up a proposal for
an ethnographic study they build on and expand the ethnography they
evaluated over the semester.