Handbook of Ethnography
Publication Year: 2001
NEW IN PAPERBACK. `I wish the Handbook of Ethnography had been available to me as a fledgling ethnographer. I would recommend it for any graduate student who contemplates a career in the field. Likewise for experienced ethnographers who would like the equivalent of a world atlas to help pinpoint their own locations in the field, the Handbook of Ethnography is it' - Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. `No self-respecting qualitative researcher should be without Paul Atkinson (et al's) handbook on ethnography. This really is encyclopaedic in concept and scope. Many big names" in the field have contributed so this has to be the starting point for anyone looking to understand the field in substantive topic, theoretical tradition and methodology. The chapters on visual ethnography and semiotics ...
- Front Matter
- Subject Index
- PART ONE
- The Chicago School of Ethnography
- Symbolic Interactionism and Ethnography
- Currents of Cultural Fieldwork
- British Social Anthropology
- Into the Community
- Mass-Observation's Fieldwork Methods
- Ethnomethodology and Ethnography
- Phenomenology and Ethnography
- Semiotics, Semantics and Ethnography
- Grounded Theory in Ethnography
- PART TWO
- The Ethnography of Health and Medicine
- Ethnographic Research in Educational Settings
- Ethnography and the Study of Deviance
- Ethnographies of Work and the Work of Ethnographers
- Ethnography and the Development of Science and Technology Studies
- Ethnography in the Study of Children and Childhood
- Ethnography and Material Culture
- Ethnography: A Critical Turn in Cultural Studies
- The Ethnography of Communication
- Technologies of Realism? Ethnographic Uses of Photography and Film
- PART THREE
- Ethnography as Work: Career Socialization, Settings and Problems
- The Ethics of Ethnography
- Participant Observation and Fieldnotes
- Ethnographic Interviewing
- Narrative Analysis in Ethnography
- The Call of Life Stories in Ethnographic Research
- Autobiography, Intimacy and Ethnography
- Feminist Ethnography
- Ethnography After Postmodernism
- Computer Applications in Qualitative Research
- Ethnodrama: Performed Research – Limitations and Potential
- Postmodernism, Post-structuralism and Post(Critical) Ethnography: Of Ruins, Aporias and Angels
International Editorial Board[Page ii]David BloomeVanderbilt UniversityAdele ClarkeUniversity of California, San FranciscoTia De NoraExeter UniversityMary Jo DelVecchio GoodHarvard UniversityNorman DenzinUniversity of IllinoisCarolyn EllisUniversity of South FloridaJaber GubriumUniversity of Florida, GainesvilleJohn HallUniversity of California, DavisMartyn HammersleyOpen UniversityMichael HerzfeldHarvard UniversityUdo KelleUniversity of VechtaDoneleen LosekeUniversity of South FloridaCatherine LutzUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel HillJeremy MacClancyOxford Brookes UniversityKath MeliaEdinburgh UniversityAnne MurcottSouth Bank UniversityGeorge NoblitUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel HillClive NorrisHull UniversityVirginia OlesenUniversity of California, San FranciscoJonathan PotterLoughborough UniversitySteven RedheadManchester Metropolitan UniversityDavid SilvermanGoldsmiths College, LondonCharles StewartUniversity College, LondonJef VerhoevenCatholic University of LeuvenSandra WallmanUniversity College, LondonRodman WebbUniversity of FloridaEben WeitzmanUniversity of Massachusetts, Boston
Editorial arrangement, editorial introduction and part introductions © Paul Atkinson, Amanda Coffey, Sara Delamont, John Lofland and Lyn Lofland 2001
Chapter 1 © Mary Jo Deegan 2001
Chapter 2 © Paul Rock 2001
Chapter 3 © James D. Faubion 2001
Chapter 4 © Sharon Macdonald 2001
Chapter 5 © Lodewijk Brunt 2001
Chapter 6 © Liz Stanley 2001
Chapter 7 © Julie Marcus 2001
Chapter 8 © Melvin Pollner and Robert M. Emerson 2001
Chapter 9 © Ilja Maso 2001
Chapter 10 © Peter K. Manning 2001
Chapter 11 © Kathy Charmaz and Richard G. Mitchell 2001
Chapter 12 © Michael Bloor 2001
Chapter 13 © Tuula Gordon, Janet Holland and Elina Lahelma 2001
Chapter 14 © Dick Hobbs 2001
Chapter 15 © Vicki Smith 2001
Chapter 16 © David Hess 2001
Chapter 17 © Allison James 2001
Chapter 18 © Christopher Tilley 2001
Chapter 19 © Joost Van Loon 2001
Chapter 20 © Elizabeth Keating 2001
Chapter 21 © Mike Ball and Greg Smith 2001
Chapter 22 © Christopher Wellin and Gary Alan Fine 2001
Chapter 23 © Elizabeth Murphy and Robert Dingwall 2001
Chapter 24 © Robert M. Emerson, Rachel I. Fretz and Linda L. Shaw 2001
Chapter 25 © Barbara Sherman Heyl 2001
Chapter 26 © Martin Cortazzi 2001
Chapter 27 © Ken Plummer 2001
Chapter 28 © Deborah Reed-Danahay 2001
Chapter 29 © Beverley Skeggs 2001
Chapter 30 © Jonathan Spencer 2001
Chapter 31 © Nigel Fielding 2001
Chapter 32 © Jim Mienczakowski 2001
Chapter 33 © Patti Lather 2001
First published 2001
Paperback edition published 2007
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Notes on Contributors[Page ix]
Paul Atkinson is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Cardiff University, UK. He has conducted and directed ethnographic research in medical, educational and cultural settings. His publications include The Ethnographic Imagination (1990), Medical Talk and Medical Work (1995), Making Sense of Qualitative Data (with Amanda Coffey, 1996) and Ethnography: Principles in Practice (with Martyn Hammersley, 2nd edition 1995).
Mike Ball is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Sociology at Staffordshire University, UK. His teaching and research interests are in interactional analysis, research methods and ethnomethodology. He has published extensively on the analysis of visual data. He is co-author of Analyzing Visual Data (1992), organizing editor for a special edition of the journal Communication and Cognition entitled ‘Studies in Visual Analysis’, and a contributor to Jon Prosser's edited collection, Image-Based Research (1998).
Michael Bloor is Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow. His most recent (co-authored) books are Keywords in Qualitative Methods (2006) and Focus Groups in Social Research (2001). He has conducted ethnographic work in outpatient clinics, therapeutic communities and on an oil tanker and has undertaken a street ethnography of male prostitution.
Lodewijk Brunt is Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In recent years he has been conducting fieldwork both in India and Scotland and he is interested in matters of time – the use and meaning of public and private time schedules. He is the editor-in-chief of the Dutch Sociologische Gids and the European editor of the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. He is preparing a book on the comparative analysis of Bombay, Glasgow and Amsterdam.
Kathy Charmaz is Professor of Sociology and Co-ordinator of the Faculty Writing Program at Sonoma State University, USA. She assists faculty in writing for publication and teaches in the areas of sociological theory, social psychology, qualitative methods, health and illness and ageing and dying. Her books include two recent co-edited volumes, The Unknown Country: Death in Australia, Britain and the USA (1997) and Health, Illness, and Healing: Society, Social Context and Self (1999). She is the author of Good Days, Bad Days: The Self in Chronic Illness and Time (1999), [Page x]which won awards from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction and the Pacific Sociological Association. Dr Charmaz currently serves as president of the Pacific Sociological Association and as editor of Symbolic Interaction.
Amanda Coffey is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, UK. Her doctoral research was an ethnographic study of occupational socialization among trainee accountants. Her publications include The Ethnographic Self, Making Sense of Qualitative Data (1999), and Feminism and the Classroom Teacher (2000). Her recent research includes work on young people and citizenship. She is one of the founding editors of the journal Qualitative Research.
Martin Cortazzi is Professor of Education at Brunel University, UK, where he supervises doctoral candidates and teaches on Teacher Education programmes. He specializes in Language Education and the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). He is a Visiting Professor in China at Nankai, Renmin and Hubei Universities. His publications are in the areas of narrative analysis, discourse, cultural aspects of learning, and primary education. Recently his research has focused on language learning in East and Southeast Asia and in the Middle East.
Mary Jo Deegan is Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA. She specializes in classical and contemporary theory, history of sociology and qualitative methods. She is the author of more than 175 articles and has written or edited 21 books, including Jane Addams and the Men of the Chicago School, 1892–1918 (1988), Race, Hull-House and the University of Chicago (2002) and introductions to edited books by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (With Her in Ourland, 1997 and by George Herbert Mead (Play, School, and Society, 1999, and Essays on Social Psychology).
Sara Delamont is Reader in Sociology at Cardiff University, UK. She has a first degree in Social Anthropology and a PhD in Educational Sociology. She is the author of ten books, including Knowledgeable Women (1989), Fighting Familiarity (1995) and The Doctoral Experience (2000), is the editor of ten others, and has published more than fifty papers. She was the first woman president of the British Education Research Association, and was the first European Associate Editor of Teaching and Teacher Education.
Robert Dingwall is Professor and Director of the Institute for Science and Society at the University of Nottingham, a research and graduate centre for the study of the social, legal cultural and ethical implications of science and technology. His career has ranged widely across the sociologies of law and medicine, but recent work has included projects on bioethics and the governance of science, on representations of the Human Genome Project, and on the presentation of evolution in popular TV wildlife programming. He is currently leading studies on the incorporation of genetic medicine into the NHS and on new challenges to public health from climatic events and infectious disease.
[Page xi]Robert M. Emerson is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. From 1983 to 1986 he served as editor of the ethnographic journal, Urban Life. His publications on ethnographic and field research methods include an edited collection of readings on ethnography, Contemporary Field Research (second edition, 2000), Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (1995), co-authored, with Rachel I. Fretz and Linda L. Shaw. Substantively his work uses qualitative methods to analyse both decision-making practices in institutions of social control, including juvenile courts, psychiatric emergency teams, public schools and prosecutors’ offices, and the dynamics of interpersonal troubles and informal social control. He is currently engaged in a study of family caregiving for persons with Alzheimer's disease.
James D. Faubion is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rice University in Houston, Texas, USA. His special interests include ancient and modern Greece, social thought, social and cultural movements, and millennialism. He is the author of Modern Greek Lessons: A Primer in Historical Constructivism (1993); and editor of Rethinking the Subject: An Anthology of Contemporary European Social Thought (1995), and Essential Works of Michel Foucault, Volume 2: Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology (1998), and Essential Works of Michel Foucault, Volume 3: Power (2000).
Nigel Fielding is Professor of Sociology and co-Director of the Institute of Social Research at the University of Surrey, UK. His research interests are in qualitative methods, policing and new research technologies. Amongst his publications are Using Computers in Qualitative Research (1991, with R.M. Lee), and Computer Analysis and Qualitative Research (1998, with R.M. Lee), which draws on the first field research in the world on how researchers use qualitative software. He is a member of the editorial boards of Qualitative Inquiry, The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum for Qualitative Social Research, and the Sage/SRM-Database for Social Research Methodology. He is currently co-Director of the CAQDAS Networking Project, the UK's national centre for qualitative software, and co-editor of the New Technologies for Social Research book series (Sage).
Gary Alan Fine is Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University, USA. He received his PhD in Social Psychology at Harvard. He is author of several books grounded in ethnographic research, including With the Boys: Little League Baseball and Preadolescent Culture (1987), Morel Tales: The Culture of Mushrooming (1998), and Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work (1996). His current research is a study of the development of the market in self-taught art.
Rachel I. Fretz is a folklorist who teaches qualitative research and writing in the Writing Programs at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. She specializes in ethnographic research, narrative enquiry and the rhetoric of representation; her publications on African narrations draw on her extensive field [Page xii]research among the Chokwe peoples of the Congo (Zaire) and Zambia. She co-authored, along with Robert M. Emerson and Linda L. Shaw, Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (1995).
Tuula Gordon is a fellow of the Collegium for Advanced Studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland. With a team including Janet Holland and Elina Lahelma, she has conducted a collaborative, comparative, cross-cultural ethnographic study, which they have published with Macmillan as Making Spaces: Citizenship and Difference in Schools. Tuula is author of Feminist Mothers (1990): Single Women on the Margins (1994) and Democracy in One School? Progressive Education and Restructuring (1986), and co-editor of Unresolved Dilemmas: Women, Work and the Family in the United States, Europe and the Former Soviet Union (1997).
David Hess is a Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is the author of a dozen books and edited collections on science, technology, and social movements. He has studied science and religious movements in the US and Brazil, alternative health movements in the US, and movements for sustainabifity and local sovereignty in the US. His most recent book is Alternative Pathways in Science and Technology: Activism, Innovation, and the Environment in an Era of Globalization (2007).
Barbara Sherman Heyl is Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Illinois State University, USA. She was educated in Sociology at Stanford University (AB) and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (PhD). She has served as President of the Midwest Sociological Society. Her past research on prostitution utilized both life history and ethnographic interviewing and appeared as The Madam as Entrepreneur (1979); a new paperback edition is in preparation. Her recent research involves a longitudinal, qualitative study of special education in Germany, published both in Spain and the United Kingdom, and includes ‘Parents, politics, and the public purse: activists in the special education arena in Germany’ in Disability and Society (1998).
Dick Hobbs is Professor of Sociology at the LSE, UK. His research interests are deviance, working-class entrepreneurship, professional and organized crime, and crime and social order in the context of the night-time economy. His publications include Doing the Business: Entrepreneurship, the Working Class and Detectives in the East End of London (1988), and Bad Business: Professional Crime in Modern Britain. With Tim May he edited Interpreting the Field: Accounts of Ethnography (1993).
Janet Holland is Professor of Social Research and Co-Director of the Families and Social Capital ESRC Research Group, London South Bank University, UK. With a team including Tuula Gordon and Elina Lahelma she conducted a collaborative, comparative cross-cultural ethnographic study, published as Making Spaces: Citizenship and Difference in Schools (2000). She is co-author of The Male in the Head: Young People, Heterosexuality and Power (1998/2004), [Page xiii]Feminist Methodology: Challenges and Choices (2002) and Inventing Adulthoods: A biographical approach to youth transitions (2007), and co-editor of Sexualities and Society: A Reader (2003).
Allison James is Professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield, UK, where she is also currently Director of the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth. Her main research interests are in childhood, ageing, health and the life course. Her most recent publications are Childhood Identities (1993); Growing Up and Growing Old (with J. Hockey, 1993) and Theorizing Childhood (with C. Jenks and A. Prout, 1998). She is currently researching children's perception and understandings of time (with P. Christensen and C. Jenks) on a project funded under the ESRC Children 5–16 research programme.
Elizabeth Keating is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. She received her PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests include: the role of language and other semiotic systems in the construction of social hierarchies, specialized language registers, relationships between language and space, language and gender, and influences of technology on communicative practices. She has conducted fieldwork in Pohnpei, Micronesia, and has investigated computer-mediated videotelephonic communication between deaf and hearing callers in Texas. Her publications include Power Sharing: Language, Rank, Gender and Social Space in Pohnpei, Micronesia (1998), as well as articles on the uses of language in the construction of social stratification and gender categories.
Elina Lahelma is Professor of Education at the University of Helsinki, Finland. With a team including Tuula Gordon and Janet Holland, she has conducted a collaborative, comparative, cross-cultural ethnographic study, published as Making Spaces: Citizenship and Difference in Schools (2000). The ethnographic work continues in longitudinal life-history studies on young people's paths to adulthood. Other publications include Democratic Education: Ethnographic Challenges (2003), edited with Dennis Beach and Gordon, and numerous articles in educational, feminist and sociological books and journals.
Patti Lather is a Professor in the School of Educational Policy and Leadership at Ohio State University, USA, where she teaches qualitative research in education and gender and education. Her work includes Getting Smart: Feminist Research and Pedagogy with/in the Postmodern (1991) and, with Chris Smithies, Troubling the Angels: Women Living with HIV/AIDS (1997). Her latest book is Getting Lost: Feminist Efforts toward a Double(d) Science (2007). Her favourite academic achievements thus far are a 1995 sabbatical appointment, Humanities Research Institute, University of California-Irvine, seminar on feminist research methodology and a 1997 visiting appointment at Goteborg University in Sweden. Her hobby aspiration is to learn to play the accordion.
John Lofland is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of California, Davis, USA. His book-length ethnographies include Doomsday Cult (1966, 1977), [Page xiv]Symbolic Sit-ins (1985), Polite Protesters (1993) and Old North Davis (1999). Founding editor of The Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, he has served as President of the Pacific Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction and as Chair of the American Sociological Association's sections on Collective Behavior and Social Movements and the Sociology of War and Peace. He is a recipient of the Society for Symbolic Interaction's George Herbert Mead Award for outstanding career contributions to the study of human behaviour and social life. His most recent work focuses on the sociology of local history and historic preservation, one report of which is (with Phyllis Haig) Davis, California, 1910s–1940s (2000).
Lyn Lofland is Professor and former Chair of Sociology at the University of California, Davis, USA. Her publications include A World of Strangers (1973), The Craft of Dying (1978, with John Lofland), Analyzing Social Settings (1983, 1995) The Community of the Streets (edited with Spencer Cahill) (1994) and The Public Realm (1998). She has served as President of the Pacific Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction and as Chair of the American Sociological Association's section on Community and Urban Sociology. In 1995 she received from that section the Robert & Helen Lynd Award for lifetime contributions to the study of human settlements. Her current research focuses on the occupational role and culture of the land developer.
Sharon Macdonald is Professor in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, UK. She was trained as a Social Anthropologist at Oxford University; and has carried out ethnographic fieldwork in the Scottish Hebrides, the Science Museum, London, and currently in Bavaria, Germany. Her publications include
Reimagining Culture: Histories, Identities and the Gaelic Renaissance (1997), The Politics of Display: Museums, Science, Culture (1998) and Behind the Scenes at the Science Museum (2002). She also edits The Sociological Review.
Peter K. Manning holds the Elmer V. H. and Eileen M. Brooks trustees Chair in the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, Boston, MA. He has taught at Michigan State, MIT, Oxford, the University of Michigan and elsewhere, and was a Fellow of the National Institute of Justice, Balliol and Wolfson Colleges, Oxford, the American Bar Foundation, the Rockefeller Villa (Bellagio), and the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Wolfson College, Oxford. The author and editor of some 13 books, including Privatization of Policing: Two Views (with Brian Forst) (2000), his research interests include the rationalizing and interplay of private and public policing, democratic policing as a social form, homeland security, crime mapping and crime analysis, uses of information technology, and qualitative methods.
Julie Marcus is Professor of Social Anthropology and a member of the Centre for Cultural Risk Research at the Bathurst campus of Charles Sturt University, Australia. Her doctoral research was carried out in Turkey and described the impact of Islam on daily life in a large Turkish city. Most recently she has carried out research into racism, policing and gender in Australian culture and for the past [Page xv]decade has worked in and around Alice Springs in central Australia. She is the author of A World of Difference: Islam and Gender Hierarchy in Turkey (1992), First in Their Field: Women and Australian Anthropology (1993), A Dark Smudge Upon the Sand: Essays on Race, History and the National Consciousness and Yours Truly, Olive M. Pink. Professor Marcus is currently working on a history of anthropology and land ownership in Alice Springs, a full-length biography of the anthropologist Olive M. Pink, and is preparing a volume of essays on secrecy and surveillance in Australian culture today.
Ilja Maso is Professor of Philosophy of Science, Methodology and the Theory of Research at the University for Humanist Studies, Utrecht, the Netherlands, and Visiting Professor of Qualitative Research at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He has published books and articles on empirical phenomenology, ethnomethodology, qualitative research, everyday explanation, ‘method and truth’, scientific fundamentalism, meaningful research, dreaming, coincidence and panpsychism. His last three books, in Dutch, were The Richness of Experience: Theory and Practise of Empirical Phenomenological Research (2004, with G. Andringa and S. Heusèrr), Immortality: Between Doubt and Certainty (2007), and The Atlas of the World of Experience (1999, with S. Sombeek).
Jim Mienczakowski is Pro Vice-Chancellor at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. His construct of critical ethnodrama has evolved into a new and important form of ethnographic practice for arts and education practitioners. Current research focuses on the emotional trauma of cosmetic surgery, trajectories of recovery from sexual assault and includes submissions to State Government Social Impact reports affecting community change. As an invited expert witness, he provided testimony for the 1999 HCCC report into cosmetic surgery, and he currently serves on an advisory group which assesses health promotional theatre involving issues of youth suicide.
Richard G. Mitchell is a Professor of Sociology in his twentieth year of teaching at Oregon State University. He is an ethnographer with interests in avocational risk-adventure and professional ethics, and has written books in each of these areas. For the past decade he has been studying separatist, segregationist and millennial social movements. His PhD is from the University of Southern California, and his current avocations are sea kayaking and mountaineering.
Elizabeth Murphy is Professor of Medical Sociology in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham. Much of her empirical research (on response to medical advice, childrearing, and intellectual disability) is drawn together by an interest in the relationship between individuals, families, professionals and the state and the ways in which discourses defining what is good, moral, responsible and legitimate pervade these relationships. Other current projects include evaluations of the extension of prescribing rights to nurses and pharmacists in the UK and of patient reporting of adverse drug reactions, and a study identifying optimal methods for identifying user requirements for medical devices.
[Page xvi]Ken Plummer is Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex, UK. His main research interests focus upon story tellings, humanistic theory (especially symbolic interactionism), sexuality and the politics and morality of ‘intimacies’. He has written numerous articles and authored or edited some ten books including Sexual Stigma (1975), The Making of the Modern Homosexual (ed., 1981) and Telling Sexual Stories (1995). His book Documents of Life (1983) has been published by Sage in a second edition (2000). Currently he is working on a study provisionally called ‘Intimate Citizenship’. He is the founder editor of the journal Sexualities.
Melvin Pollner is Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. His research interests include the construction of the self and foundational issues in interpretive and qualitative sociology, especially ethnomethodology. He has conducted research on a variety of psychiatric and legal settings and is currently examining the construction of community on the Web and stock market investment decisions. His current research examines the interpenetration of the Web and financial markets. His publications include Mundane Reason: Reality in Everyday and Sociological Discourse (1987).
Deborah Reed-Danahay is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at SUNY Buffalo State. She is author of Education and Identity in Rural France: The Politics of Schooling (1996) and Locating Bourdieu (2005). She is also editor of Auto/ Ethnography: Rewriting the Self and Social (1997). She has conducted previous ethnographic research in France and in the US. Recent projects include the study of French rural memoirs and an ethnographic study of new constructions of identity in the educational policies and project of the European Union. Her current research is on Vietnamese Americans and civic engagement in north-central Texas, and she plans further comparative research on Vietnamese in France, Canada, and the US.
Paul Rock is Professor of Social Institutions at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK. He took his first degree at the LSE and then a DPhil at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of California, San Diego; Simon Fraser University; the University of British Columbia and Princeton University; a Visiting Scholar at the Ministry of the Solicitor General of Canada; and a Fellow of the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California. His interests focus on the development of criminal justice policies, particularly for victims of crime, but he has also published articles on criminological theory and the history of crime. His most recent books include The Social World of an English Crown Court (1993); Reconstructing a Women's Prison (1996); After Homicide: Practical and Political Responses to Bereavement (1998) and (with David Downes) Understanding Deviance (fourth edition, 1998).
Linda L. Shaw is an Associate Professor of Sociology at California State University, San Marcos, USA. Her interests focus on the impact of social welfare policy on the everyday lives of the poor and marginalized groups. She has published in the area of community care for chronic mental patients and co-authored Writing Fieldnotes with Robert M. Emerson and Rachel I. Fretz (1995). She is [Page xvii]currently using qualitative methods to analyse the impact of welfare reform on the everyday lives of recipients of public assistance.
Beverley Skeggs is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, UK. She was Co-director of the Centre for Women's Studies at Lancaster University from 1993 to 1997. Her books include Class, Self, Culture (2003) and she has edited Feminist Cultural Theory and Transformations in Feminist Theory. She has also written on issues of popular culture, ‘race’, postmodernism, education, cultural studies and space. She is presently working on an ESRC funded project on ‘Violence, Sexuality and Space’.
Greg Smith is Reader in Sociology at the University of Salford, UK. His teaching and research interests are in ethnographic and interaction sociology and social and cultural theory. He is co-author of Analyzing Visual Data (1992) and Introducing Cultural Studies (2004). He has published widely on Goffman's sociology, most recently as author of a volume in the Routledge Key Sociologists series, Erving Goffman (2006).
Vicki Smith is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis, USA. She took her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation research at Berkeley led to her first book Managing in the Corporate Interest: Control and Resistance in an American Bank (1990) about the impact of corporate restructuring at the Bank of America on middle managers’ jobs and social relations. Her subsequent research has focused on published a number of journal articles based on that research. Her forthcoming book (Spring 2001), Crossing The Great Divide: Worker Risk and Opportunity in The New Economy, uses organizational case study research to compare the experiences and aspirations of American workers as they encounter new forms of work and employment.
Jonathan Spencer is Professor of the Anthropology of South Asia and Director of the Graduate School of Social and Political Studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK. He is the author of A Sinhala Village in a Time of Trouble (1990) and co-editor (with Alan Barnard) of the Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology (1996).
Liz Stanley is Professor of Sociology and Director of Centre for Narrative and Auto/Biographical Studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and still thinks that ‘Doctor’ is the only academic title worth having. Her research and writing interests are concerned with ‘auto/ biography’, radical sociology and feminist epistemology; in the rest of her life, she enjoys the ‘earthly pleasures’ that Colette evokes so wonderfully.
Christopher Tilley is Professor of Material Culture in the Department of Anthropology and Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK. Recent publications include Metaphor and Material Culture (1999), An Ethnography of the Neolithic (1996) and A Phenomenology of Landscape (1994). His current research interests are in landscape and representation in the UK and in material forms and the politics of identity in the South Pacific.
[Page xviii]Joost Van Loon is Professor of Media Analysis at Nottingham Trent University, UK, where he is associated with the Institute of Cultural Analysis, Nottingham. He has published across a wide range of subjects, including risk, media, technology, violence, sexuality, race and ethnicity, feminist theory, virology, epidemiology, space, time and apocalypse culture. His major publications include Risk and Technological Culture (2002) and The Risk Society and Beyond (with Barbara Adam and Ulrich Beck; 2000). He co-edits the international refereed journal Space and Culture.
Christopher Wellin holds a PhD in Sociology from Northwestern University, USA, where he also served as lecturer. After a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, he joined the faculty of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, He is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Gerontology and a Research Fellow of the Scripps Gerontology Center. His ethnographic studies of the organization of work, authority, and careers range across multiple settings, including the theatre, industrial work, and community-based caregiving for the aged with chronic illness. His work has appeared in such outlets as Qualitative Sociology, American Behavioral Scientist, and Journal of Aging Studies.
Editorial IntroductionMapping Ethnographic Diversity
[Page 1]The chapters that follow this introduction are intended to provide the reader with a tour d'horizon of ethnographic methods and ethnographic research in the social sciences. As with any exercise of this scope, it is an ambitious undertaking. Attempts to generate a comprehensive and authoritative volume on most aspects of the social sciences are ultimately doomed to failure. The field is too broad and diffuse: it escapes the neat categorizations that are demanded by encyclopaedic treatments. Moreover, the intellectual terrain is normally contested: authority and tradition are constantly undermined. It is inevitable that the coverage will be incomplete, and that treatments of its subject matter will be matters of debate. Our topic – the conduct and conceptualization of ethnographic fieldwork – is especially subject to such constraints and contradictions. So the commission to edit a Handbook of Ethnography is a well-nigh impossible task. Although it has been a feature of social science research through most of the twentieth century, and has become pervasive across a wide range of disciplinary applications, ethnography escapes ready summary definitions. In recent years, indeed, it has become a site of debate and contestation within and across disciplinary boundaries.
This volume is not definitive in the sense of defining its subject matter, nor in the sense of excluding other interpretations. It is, however, authoritative in that we chose contributors who are leading scholars. We encouraged our contributors to interpret the topics we assigned to them with some degree of latitude. We certainly did not set them the task of mechanistically ‘reviewing the literature’. A handbook such as this one cannot serve the long-term interests of the research community if it is little more than a series of annotated bibliographies. Such exercises become rapidly out of date and divert attention from the longer-term perspectives and intellectual antecedents of a field. There are few if any genres of scholarly writing that are less life-enhancing than the literature review. Of course, we have asked our authors to provide adequate guidance to our readers about the range of published literature, but we have not judged authors or chapters, and do not want them to be judged by others, as if they were sterile exercises in reviewing the literature. Our intention was something much more intellectually engaging than that. The resultant contributions more than fulfil that expectation.
International excellence was our primary criterion in selecting our authors, and our plans for the volume were always international in scope. When they had written for us we gave their work to referees who are equally distinguished and also drawn from an international pool of expertise. The actual volume, therefore, is the result of the interactions between those authors and their peers. We did not seek to impose on those distinguished authors too tight a specification of how they were to write each chapter. Having identified for our own editorial purposes the desirable range of material a volume such as this ought to cover, and having sketched out a broad summary of contents, we have trusted the judgement of each author to interpret those themes. We have, therefore, granted licence to our contributing authors to exercise their own expertise in tackling the various chapter topics we laid before them. No treatment of such a complex and potentially contested set of topics can ever claim to be comprehensive. Each chapter could alone sustain a multiplicity of different interpretations, and we could multiply the examples, selections of literature to be reviewed, and so on more or less indefinitely. For these reasons we have not sought to impose our own prescriptive models and definitions in the editorial process. We do not think it a good idea to empanel an array of international experts, encourage them to exercise their own judgement, and then steal their thunder by editorial fiat. For these reasons, too, we have resisted any temptation to offer our own canonical definitions or justifications of ethnographic research. We ourselves have been suspicious of various attempts to tidy up the history of ethnographic research either through the imposition of ‘traditions’ or through the construction of historical schemas or periodizations. In particular, we have explicitly avoided any typology or developmental schema for ethnography which assumes a linear model of progress, or tries to erect ‘pure’ categories. That is, we explicitly eschew the five (six) [Page 2]moments model of Lincoln and Denzin (1994) or the typologies of authors like Jacob (1987) or Leininger (1992). They can serve useful pedagogical functions, but can ultimately do violence to the complexities of research and its historical development. Hence we see little point in trying to generate a definitive list of the core characteristics of ethnography as an approach to social research, or to tie it to restricted disciplinary allegiances. In compiling this collection, therefore, we have operated with a broad definition of ethnography. We have deliberately commissioned chapters that display its deep and diverse roots, its wide-ranging methods, and its many applications. We are not interested in trying to define a canon. Moreover, we have outlined many of our own views and perceptions elsewhere, and we do not recapitulate those contributions here (Atkinson, Coffey and Delamont, 1999; Coffey, 1999; Coffey and Atkinson, 1996; Delamont, 2001; Delamont, Coffey and Atkinson, 2000; Hammersley and Atkinson, 1995; Lofland and Lofland, 1995).
There are, of course, broad family resemblances between the various methods and applications that have characterized ethnographic research over the years. Its centrality to social or cultural anthropology is unquestionable. Indeed, when anthropologists seek the defining characteristic of their own discipline, they more often than not cite the centrality of ethnographic fieldwork. Likewise, they recognize that the conduct of ethnographic work provides a special biographical and intellectual experience that is the touchstone of being an anthropologist. Anthropologists no longer define their research sites or ‘fields’ exclusively in terms of exotic cultures and distant places. Anthropologists have been and are continuing to explore cultural settings closer to ‘home’. One no longer has to travel a great physical distance in order to encounter cultural and social difference or to engage in the rite de passage that is anthropological fieldwork (Amit, 2000; Delamont, Atkinson and Parry, 2000). Although there are increasing convergences between the subject matter of anthropologists and sociologists, their commitments to ethnographic research are frequently celebrated in mutual isolation. Indeed, some anthropologists even manage to deny the existence of ethnographic field research outside their own disciplinary boundaries. Not only do they recognize its centrality to anthropology, they claim it as a unique attribute of that discipline. Despite all evidence to the contrary, some anthropologists will claim that sociologists and others all use surveys or other quantitative approaches, while they alone are committed to fieldwork (cf Amit, 2000). Ironically, however, sociologists can lay claim to a heritage of ethnographic research that is just as venerable and just as central to some of its intellectual traditions. Urban sociology and the study of small communities in cities, towns and rural settings is almost a century old. The work that originated in and was inspired by the Chicago School of sociology in the United States can reasonably claim a pedigree of ethnographic research that is unbroken since the 1920s. Likewise, the closely related theoretical tradition of symbolic interactionism – again an American intellectual tendency – has a commitment to ethnographic work that spans the same period.
On these grounds, then, we cannot equate ethnography with only one disciplinary tradition. In this handbook we have deliberately and systematically placed anthropological and sociological perspectives alongside each other. We have commissioned chapters from both disciplines on historical and contextual issues, as well as on methodological topics. Chapters that focus on specific empirical areas also address disciplinary diversity. Too often ethnography is claimed by one or the other discipline, too often there is mutual ignorance and incomprehension. Here the ‘two traditions’ (Delamont and Atkinson, 1995) are irrevocably enmeshed and juxtaposed. Too often the history of ethnography is treated in rigid disciplinary and developmental frames. Ethnography, in our view, has never been the sole preserve of anthropology, nor of Chicago sociology, nor of symbolic interactionism, nor of any other interest group. Its various manifestations have always been marked by diversity. There has rarely been a single orthodoxy that has been so strongly dominant as to exclude all difference.
Contemporary ethnographic research is often characterized by fragmentation and diversity. There is certainly a carnivalesque profusion of methods, perspectives and theoretical justifications for ethnographic work. There are multiple methods of research, analysis and representation. It is tempting to see this profusion just as a symptom of a fin de siècle and of the postmodern condition. The narratives of contemporary metatheory (postmodern, post-structuralist, post-feminist, post-colonial and so on) all assume or describe one specific type of historical ‘past’ for ethnographic research methods. They outline a developmental trend that culminates in contemporary, fragmentary practices. Paradoxically, celebrations of the postmodern include their own grand narratives of intellectual history – while appearing to eschew such narrations. Moreover, such narratives can be unduly neglectful of past achievements that do not fit neatly into their developmental frameworks.
It is dangerously easy to assume that for a period of several decades, ethnographic research, notwithstanding subtle differences between disciplines and other intellectual contexts, was undertaken under the auspices of a stable orthodoxy. Ethnographies, in the dual sense of fieldwork and its textual products, can seem, in retrospect, to be governed by the assumptions of realist writing and an uncritical approach to data collection. Such a stable universe of methods and texts, gives way to a series of intellectual crises [Page 3]and a destabilization of the orthodoxy. Signalled by the publication of Clifford and Marcus’ (1986) Writing Culture, the ethnographic text was perceived as undergoing a crisis of confidence. Previously the text, typically the monograph, recorded the central processes of fieldwork and was the most important product of qualitative research. After Clifford and Marcus, qualitative research took what is variously called the linguistic turn, or the interpretative turn, or the rhetorical turn or simply the turn - with its accompanying legitimation crisis. One consequence of the turn is an enhanced awareness of ethnographic writing (Atkinson, 1990, 1992, 1996; Atkinson and Coffey, 1995). Anthropologists, for instance, reflect upon fieldnotes: how they are constructed, used and managed. We come to understand that fieldnotes are not a closed, completed, final text: rather they are indeterminate, subject to reading, rereading, coding, recording, interpreting, reinterpreting. The literary turn has encouraged (or insisted) on the revisiting, or reopening, of ethnographers’ accounts and analyses of their fieldwork, notably in the work of Wolf (1992), Richardson (1990, 1992), Wolcott (1990) and the feminist responses to Clifford and Marcus such as the collections edited by Behar and Gordon (1995) and James et al. (1997). The representational crises of this period put in hazard not only the products of the ethnographer's work, but the moral and intellectual authority of ethnographers themselves. The ‘crisis’ was not founded merely in ethnographers’ growing self-consciousness concerning their own literary work and its conventional forms. More fundamentally, it grew out of the growing contestation of ethnographers’ (especially mainstream Western ethnographers’) implicit claims to a privileged and totalizing gaze (Boon, 1982; Clifford, 1988). It led to increasingly urgent claims to legitimacy on the part of so-called indigenous ethnographers, and for increasingly complex relationships between ethnographers’ selves, the selves of ‘others’ and the texts they both engage in (Coffey, 1999).
The dual crises of representation and legitimation form the new taken-for-granted. This is characterized by continuing diversity and a series of tensions. Lincoln and Denzin (1994: 581), for instance, characterize the present as ‘a messy moment, multiple voices, experimental texts, breaks, ruptures, crises of legitimation and representation, self-critique, new moral discourses, and technologies’. They identify a field confronting a number of fundamental issues – a sustained critique of positivism and post-positivism, ongoing self-critique and self-appraisal, continuing crises of representation in our texts and authority we claim from them, an emergence of a ‘cacophony of voices speaking with varying agendas’ (Lincoln and Denzin, 1994: 409) and the growing influence of technology – which in turn are contributing to a constant redefinition of the field. This moment is also time for consolidation, and a sharpening of the critique of qualitative research, while attempting at the same time to correct its excesses and to move on. As we have alluded to earlier, Denzin and Lincoln utilize their idea of moments or phases in the development of ethnography to speculate about the future (as they define it – the sixth moment(s)). They project a further multiplication of voices, styles, stories -and hence multiple futures for qualitative (ethnographic) research. The multiplicity of perspectives and practices in contemporary ethnography are not in doubt. Indeed, they are well rehearsed and documented (Atkinson and Silverman, 1997; Coffey and Atkinson, 1996; Ellis and Bochner, 1996). Ethnography can indeed be characterized in terms of its own cultural diversity. However, overly attributing this multiplicity to presents and futures glosses over the historical persistence of tension and differences. Contrasts between previous positivist, modernist and self-confident (but narrow) perspectives, and the contemporary carnivalesque diversity of standpoints, methods and representations, are often too sharply drawn. It both presents too orthodox a past and equally could be taken to imply that all contemporary qualitative research takes place from a position of an intellectual field teeming with contested ideas and experimental texts (see also Atkinson et al., 1988 for a critique of a different exercise in categorizing ethnographic research). We would suggest that a chronological, and linear view of development (such as the model offered by Lincoln and Denzin) is in danger of doing a disservice to earlier generations of ethnographers.
It is far from clear that there ever were monolithically ‘positivist’ and ‘modernist’ phases in the historical trajectory of qualitative research. It would be as wrong to assume that all ethnography in past generations was conducted under the auspices of a positivistic and totalizing gaze, as it is to imply that we are all ‘postmodern’ now. We would wish to take issue with the narrow view that there was ever a traditional, hegemonic ethnographic order – ‘that order that insists on marginalizing the new, not treating it as a version of a new order of things, and always defining it as an aberrant variation on the traditional way of doing things’ (Denzin, 1997: 251). Nor would we want to suggest that ‘new’, so-called experimental forms of ethnography or messy texts are wrong or irrelevant. Our point is much less profound. Over the development of ethnography there has been a repeated dialectic between what might be thought of as a dominant orthodoxy, and other, centrifugal forces that have promoted difference and diversity. There is, for instance, little need to appeal only to recent developments in ethnographic writing and commentary as evidence of ‘blurred genres’. Relationships between the aesthetic and the scientific, or between the positive and interpretivist have been detectable for many years -indeed throughout the development of ethnographic research this century. (Admittedly, they have not been equally remarked on, nor have they taken the [Page 4]same form at all times.) It is a well-known aspect of the history of sociology – but it bears repetition in this context – that the early period of urban ethnography in Chicago drew on aesthetic and literary models as much as on models of ‘scientific’ research. The sociological perspective was fuelled by the textual conventions of realist fiction. The sociological exploration of the ‘life’ – through the life-history for instance – was influenced by the novel of development, such as Farrell's Studs Lonigan trilogy. Equally, some of the literary inspirations drew broadly speaking on a sociological perspective. More generally still, the ethnographic tradition and literary genres in the United States have displayed intertextual relationships over many decades. The styles of urban realism, the literary creation of characters and types in the city, and the narrative of modern fiction – these all contributed to the styles of ethnographic representation. The systematic analysis of these intertextual relations may be a fairly recent preoccupation, but the genres are more enduring and more blurred than the moments model suggested by Denzin and Lincoln.
The nature of those intertextual linkages deserves closer attention. It is clearly insufficient to deal with a monolithic ‘ethnography’ on the one hand and an equally undifferentiated ‘literature’ on the other. The specific relationships between American fiction and ethnographic reportage are but one set of possible homologies and influences. For example, there were significant parallels between Malinowski's ethnographic enterprise and Joseph Conrad's literary work. Likewise, there were multiple cultural and literary commitments that informed Edward Sapir's anthropology and his linguistics. In doing so he also reminds us that in the figure of Franz Boas himself – its founding hero – American cultural anthropology was born out of a complex mix of epistemological and aesthetic commitments. Equally, Ruth Benedict's particular development of one strand of Boasian anthropology was hardly conceived and reported in a narrowly scientistic manner. Zora Neale Hurston's experimental ethnographic writing is another example that has received some attention recently, but deserves wider recognition.
Our point here is not to review yet again fairly well-known commentaries on ethnography, literature and aesthetics. Rather, we emphasize the extent to which ethnography in sociology or anthropology -whether conceived in terms of method or its textual products – has never been a stable entity. It has been marked by contrasts and tensions that are not merely departures from an established orthodoxy. The conduct of ethnographic research has rarely, if ever, been established solely under the auspices of a positivist orthodoxy. American cultural anthropology, for instance, has displayed a repeated tension between the nomothetic search for law-like regularities, and the idiographic interpretation of cultures. In essence we take issue with Denzin's suggestion that the ‘dividing lines between a secular science of the social world and sacred understandings of that world are now being challenged and, in some cases, erased’ (Denzin, 1997: xviii; emphasis added). The point is that these dividing lines were never so starkly drawn in the first place. Given the highly personalized nature of anthropological fieldwork and authorship, it is far from clear that any major practitioner ever subscribed to a purely scientistic or positivist perspective. Indeed, although it is virtually impossible to demonstrate, one suspects that the social and academic elite members of the community of anthropologists never subscribed to anything quite as vulgar or artisan as a single scientific method or its equivalent. The sociology of scientific knowledge would strongly suggest that the elite core of the subject never espoused such crude oversimplifications as the subsequent historical accounts attribute to them. The emphasis on personal qualities and the uniquely biographical experience of fieldwork meant that the discipline of anthropology was often portrayed as an essentially ‘indeterminate’ mode of knowledge acquisition.
To summarize, ethnographic research has always contained within it a variety of perspectives. As a whole it has never been totally subsumed within a framework of orthodoxy and objectivism. There have been varieties of aesthetic and interpretative standpoints throughout nearly a century of development and change. The ethnographic approach to understanding cultural difference has itself incorporated a diversity of intellectual cultures. There have undoubtedly been changing intellectual fashions and emphases, and the pace of change has perhaps been especially rapid in recent years (although here again we would take issue with a model that has change moving ever-more quickly and developmental phases becoming increasingly truncated). These so-called trends actually reflect long-standing tensions, rather than constituting a new and unique moment in ethnographic research. They continue the centrifugal and centripetal tendencies that have been perceptible for many years, and represent the diverse and broad concerns of a past as well as a present (and future) ethnography (Delamont and Atkinson, 1995).Defining Ethnography
Notwithstanding such differences and tensions, the ethnographic traditions do share many common features, as is evident in the chapters contained in this volume. They are grounded in a commitment to the first-hand experience and exploration of a particular social or cultural setting on the basis of (though not exclusively by) participant observation. Observation and participation (according to circumstance and the analytic purpose at hand) remain the [Page 5]characteristic features of the ethnographic approach. In many cases, of course, fieldwork entails the use of other research methods too. Participant observation alone would normally result in strange and unnatural behaviour were the observer not to talk with her or his hosts, so turning them into informants or ‘co-researchers’. Hence, conversations and interviews are often indistinguishable from other forms of interaction and dialogue in field research settings. In literate societies the ethnographer may well draw on textual materials as sources of information and insight into how actors and institutions represent themselves and others. In principle, indeed, the ethnographer may find herself or himself drawing on a very diverse repertoire of research techniques – analysing spoken discourse and narratives, collecting and interpreting visual materials (including photography, film and video), collecting oral history and life history material and so on. In recent years, this array of methods and techniques has become widespread, and they have been documented and disseminated under the rubric of qualitative research methods. In that guise they have spread far beyond the disciplinary confines of anthropology and sociology. In so doing, the social settings in which they are used have also diversified. There are now flourishing traditions of qualitative research in nursing and health studies, in studies of work and organizations, in science and technology studies, in human geography, in social psychology, in educational research, cultural, media and theatre studies, and many other domains of empirical research. Indeed, it is one of the strengths of these methodological commitments and their concomitant disciplinary interests that they have sustained substantial volumes of empirical research. Anthropologists and symbolic interactionist sociologists, for instance, have consistently grounded their work in major pieces of empirical investigation, based on intensive field research. And it is just as well that they have done so over the decades, while other social and cultural specialists have gone in for rather less firmly rooted work, with far too much fashionable theory and intellectual faddism, and insufficient attention to the realities of everyday life.
We have not, however, developed this volume as a general handbook of qualitative research methods. There is one obvious pragmatic reason for that: it already exists (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994). Our reasons go beyond that, however. We believe that there remains a central place in the social disciplines for the intensive investigation of a research agenda that is characteristic of the ethnographic spirit, and that this is not necessarily captured by the connotations of a generalist qualitative methods label. Indeed, a good deal of what currently passes for qualitative research has little systematic grounding in the methods and commitments (intellectual and personal) that we associate with the term ‘ethnography’. Close inspection of the relevant literatures and textbooks suggests that all too often authors and researchers are talking about the conduct of in-depth interviews – or focus groups -divorced from contexts of social action; or are amassing textual materials, diaries and biographies independently of the social contexts in which they are produced or used. These are often important ways of gaining principled understandings of social life and personal experience, but should not necessarily be equated with ethnographic research. Whatever the range of data collection techniques, we believe that ethnographic research remains firmly rooted in the first-hand exploration of research settings. It is this sense of social exploration and protracted investigation that gives ethnography its abiding and continuing character.
This does not mean that ethnography always means exactly the same to all social scientists at all times or under all circumstances. Clearly there have been and will continue to be differences. We have already alluded to the persistent difference between sociology and anthropology. They do not necessarily reflect profound differences in the actual conduct of field ethnography, but do reflect different mythological charters for the different subjects. There are, moreover, differences in national traditions. Even within anthropology there are national distinctions. American cultural anthropology and British social anthropology, for instance, have had quite distinctive intellectual histories. At a more finely grained level, there are – also within anthropology – distinctive regional differences: different global regions have been reflected in subtly but significantly different traditions of research and writing (Fardon, 1990). British and American sociologists have exerted mutual influence, but there are differences between their sociologies as well. There are, too, different constellations of research and writing that are characteristic of specific substantive domains. The conduct of ethnography is, moreover, no preserve of English-speaking academics. Its spread has been global. For those reasons, then, we have been at pains to include in this volume contributions from an international array of authors, as well as a cross-disciplinary one. Our board of editorial advisers also reflects an international and interdisciplinary relevance for contemporary ethnography. While the Anglophone international community predominates, we have included contributions from different continents. We have also had each chapter refereed by at least one referee from a country other than the author's. The overall volume is, therefore, interdisciplinary and international in scope.Organization of the Handbook
The contents of this handbook are set out in three broad sections. Each is preceded by an editorial [Page 6]introduction that sets the scene for the individual chapters. We do not, therefore, recapitulate those more detailed discussions here, but provide a brief overview. In Part One are a series of chapters that explore various intellectual and substantive contexts of ethnographic work – both disciplinary and empirical. Collectively these enable an appreciation of some of the origins of ethnography in sociology and anthropology, community studies and elsewhere. It is important to recognize that there are distinctive differences in national orientation – for instance between British and American anthropologists – and these are addressed in the various contributions. Some of the key sources for ethnographic research are explored, and various strands of the ethnographic imagination are located in British and American sociology, in Chicago sociology and symbolic interactionism, in community studies and the documentary realism of Mass-Observation. Here we also include chapters about key ideas and concepts that inform ethnographic research. In principle this could again have been extended to a much larger catalogue of themes, topics and problems. We and our contributors have necessarily been selective. It is not our intention to provide a comprehensive review of absolutely all of the potentially vast range of issues here. Rather, the contributions lay out some of the most significant epistemological and methodological issues that inform varieties of contemporary ethnographic work. Some of the major theoretical movements that have impinged on the development and conduct of ethnography, such as symbolic interactionism, semiotics, phenomenology and ethnomethodology are addressed, together with the impact of movements such as feminism and postmodernism (these are further addressed in Part Three of the handbook). The contributions help to (reestablish the rich intellectual traditions that have informed ethnographic research and its epistemological underpinnings. The chapters help us to crystallize the variety of intellectual tendencies and key differences between them (as well as the family resemblances) that have contributed to the resilience of ethnographic methods in a world of changing ideas and emphases.
Equally, it is crucial to locate the use of ethnographic research in at least some of its key contexts of application. Part Two thus contains chapters focusing on distinctive domains of ethnographic research. These are not simply different locales in which field research just happens to have taken place. Rather, the ethnographic treatment constructs the various fields in particular intellectual ways. The ethnographic study of scientific laboratories, for instance, is part of a characteristic reconstruction of the laboratory as a particular kind of site. The ethnographic study of educational settings and processes equally constructs classrooms as the setting for particular kinds of processes and interactions. Ethnographic fieldwork, and the disciplinary commitments that inform it, constructs the objects of research as well as providing ways of exploring them. Hence this series of chapters addresses the contribution that ethnography has made to the study of distinctive empirical areas and the contribution that the study of these distinctive arenas has made to the development of ethnography.
Part Three turns from the contexts and concepts that have informed ethnography to a consideration of its present and future conduct. These chapters explore a number of key aspects of data collection, analysis and representation. They are not intended to substitute for the many books of practical advice on the day-to-day performance of ethnographic work. Rather, some of the key domains and debates are addressed and explored. It is characteristic of ethnographic research that such strategies and methods are far from inert, transparent or mechanistic information-gathering exercises, or routine analytic procedures (Wolcott, 1994). We cannot divorce the methods and the analyses from broader disciplinary and conceptual frameworks. While all methods of data collection and analysis are imbued with theoretical ideas – however implicit – the qualitative methods of the ethnographer are especially contested and debated. Here, therefore, we have collected chapters that deal with some of the main strategies of data construction, such as fieldnotes and interviewing and the analysis of narratives and biographical materials. We also include a consideration of one of the most significant areas of innovation in recent years – the use of computer software for the organization, management and analysis of ethnographic data. Part Three also pays considerable attention to the consequences of the turn for ethnographic representation, and considers the possible futures of ethnographic work.
In essence, the Handbook of Ethnography celebrates a certain unity in diversity. We fully recognize the extent to which ethnographic research means different things in different intellectual fields, disciplines or national contexts. The contemporary conceptualization of ethnography – whether or not labelled as postmodern (post-structural, post-feminist, critical) – reflects a proliferation of theory, methodology and praxis. Equally, we seek to reclaim a tradition. Notwithstanding the manifest diversity, there remain the core achievements of ethnographic research over the best part of a century. It is all too easy to get caught up in the methodological or epistemological strife and to lose sight of the abiding commitment to the principled exploration and reconstruction of social worlds, our engagement with our fellow men and women, our commitment to the interpretation of local and situated cultures. While theoretical fashions can come and go, the products of ethnographic research remain extraordinarily durable. We continue to read and to encourage our students to read ethnographic monographs from across different specialist domains and across the decades. We do so [Page 7]because many of them are among the classics in their field. Here the metaphor of the classic is particularly apt. Classic design endures while fashion waxes and wanes. Classics have a double valency: they are of their time, yet are constantly available for subsequent generations. The ethnographic gift of the classic monograph is not, therefore, just a romantic device to suspend settings and cultures outside of history. It captures the essential tension at the heart of the ethnographic enterprise: the local has general significance, and the temporally specific has lasting value. The enduring value of the ethnographic tradition is grounded in its attention to the singular and the concrete. The chapters that follow are testimony to this endurance and excitement in the ethnographic approach and should be read in that spirit.ReferencesAmit, V. (ed.) (2000)Constructing the Field. London: Routledge.(1990)The Ethnographic Imagination. London: Routledge.(1992)Understanding Ethnographic Texts. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.(1996)Sociological Readings and Re-readings. Aldershot: Gower.(1995)‘Realism and its discontents: the crisis of cultural representation in ethnographic texts’, in B. Adam and S. Allen (eds), Theorising Culture. London: UCL Press. pp. 103–39.,‘Kundera's Immortality: the interview society and the invention of the selfQualitative Inquiry3(1997)304–25‘Ethnography: post, past and present’Journal of Contemporary Ethnography285(1999)460–71‘Qualitative research traditions’Review of Educational Research382(1988)231–50Behar, R. and Gordon, D. (eds) (1995)Women Writing Culture. Los Angeles: University of California Press.(1982)Other Tribes, Other Scribes: Symbolic Anthropology in the Comparative Study of Authors, Histories, Religions and Texts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.(1988)The Predicament of Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Clifford, J. and Marcus, G.E. (eds) (1986)Writing Culture. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.(1999)The Ethnographic Self. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.(1996)Making Sense of Qualitative Data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.,(2001)Fieldwork in Educational Settings,2nd edn.London: Falmer Press.(1995)Fighting Familiarity. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.,(2000)The Doctoral Experience. London: Falmer Press., ,‘The twilight years?’International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education133(2000)223–38(1997)Interpretive Ethnography: Ethnographic Practices for the 21st Century. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (eds) (1994)Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Ellis, C. and Bochner, A. (eds) (1996)Composing Ethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Sage.Fardon, R. (ed.) (1990)Localizing Strategies. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.(1995)Ethnography: Principles in Practice,,2nd edn.London: Routledge.‘Qualitative research traditions’Review of Educational Research571(1987)1–50James, A., Hockey, J. and Dawson, A. (eds) (1997)After Writing Culture. London: Routledge.‘Current issues, problems and trends to advance qualitative paradigmatic research methods for the future’Qualitative Health Research24(1992)392–415(1994)‘The fifth moment’, in N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (eds), Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. pp. 575–86.,(1995)Analyzing Social Settings,,3rd edn.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.(1990)Writing Strategies: Reaching Diverse Audiences. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.(1992)‘The consequences of poetic representation’, in C. Ellis and M.G. Flaherty (eds), Investigating Subjectivity. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.(1990)Writing up Qualitative Research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.(1994)Transforming Qualitative Data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.(1992)The Thrice Told Tale. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.