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In addition, because ethnography is a fairly new methodology, many ethnographers are truly breaking new ground and other scholarly references may simply be unavailable.While true ethnographers have the luxury of spending large chunks of time in the field and can discover their purpose after lengthy observations, you may find it necessary to focus on a more clearly defined purpose early in your research.
However, like artifacts, rituals are very useful for understanding and interpreting a culture.
The ethnographic research design involves a number of unique considerations toward the end of the project.
Enhance your interpretive skills by learning about the culture before visiting, perhaps by reading other researchers' ethnographic accounts of the culture.
Ethnographers vehemently disagree about the degree to which library research must support field study.
The ethnographer's eyes and ears are two very important tools for collecting information, but documentation is key.
Any instrument that can record, store, or sort information is of primary use to the ethnographer.Unlike artifacts, rituals and customs are not physical objects that can be held in one's hands and described according to their shape and function.Rituals are activities that people perform according to a predetermined pattern.For example, ethnographers have attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and written about the culture of alcoholics.Ethnographers have studied the community of prostitutes and drug dealers on inner-city streets and in housing projects.Tape recorders, cameras, and note pads are some of the most commonly used tools for ethnographic research.Recording interviews with key informants is more preferable than taking notes; by listening to recordings over and over you will discover important details that you might otherwise miss if you simply take notes.These artifacts provide a great deal of information about ancient civilizations and help to recreate a picture of what life was like for these people.Enhance your ethnographic interpretation by identifying and observing customs and rituals that members of the community routinely perform.Many well-respected anthropologists have written ethnographies that contain few if any references to secondary sources.The job of entering a culture, living as an insider, and then writing to outsiders is already so demanding that they do not have the time, energy, or zeal to connect their work to the work of others.