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Ethnography Powered By Docstoc
					 Ethnography: How we learn what
          we know…
• Ethnographic inquiry
   – What is ethnography?
   – How is it done?
   – Is it testable?
   – Examples of
     ethnographic work
   – Indigenous peoples
   – Fieldwork
• Ethno – refers to human culture
• Graphy – means description of
• A research process used in the scientific study
  of human interactions in social settings
• Used extensively in anthropology
• Has become increasing popular in many
  different fields over the past few years
• Nursing, education, market research, business,
• Ethnographers should take note of all
  – including senses,
  – details about the physical setting including size,
    space, noise, colors, equipment and movement,
  – about people in the setting, such as number,
    gender and race, appearance, dress movement,
    comportment, feeling and tone.
• Interactional Detail - observing events in an
  intimate microscopic manner to recount what
  happened in fine detail
• Key Events - focusing on key events…such as
  weddings, funerals, etc…is a useful way to
  organize your fieldnotes; it involves selecting
  noteworthy incidents out of the flow of
  ongoing activity
• Purpose – to describe and explain a facet or
  segment of group social life
• Hypotheses and questions – begin as a broad
  statement about the purpose of the research,
  then are allowed to emerge more specifically
  as data are amassed.
• Data - verbal descriptions of people,
  interactions, settings, objects and phenomena
  within the context being studies
• Data Sources – the people, settings, and
  relevant objects being observed
• Data Collection – done by the researcher
  through observation, often combined with
  formal and informal interviews
• Data treatment and analysis – presentation of
  verbal descriptions and/or logical analysis of
  information to discover salient patterns and
                    The Process
• A question or concern is
  identified for study
• A group to study is
   – Typically small
   – Typically purposively
                     The Process
• Permission to study the
  group is obtained
• The researcher
  observes the group
   – Privileged observer: just
   – Participant observer:
     functions as part of the
                   The Process
• Researcher watches and listens attentively and records as
  much detail as possible (this is called naturalistic
• Large amounts of notes are typically generated (My
  example, 15 tapes = hundreds of pages of transcriptions).
• This process may last a week or two or could be years.
• The researcher analyzes the notes, identifies themes,
  looks for answers to research questions, and makes
  logical inferences.
                      The Process
• The final step is to write the
  research paper describing
  the process, observations,
  findings, and conclusion.
• Often rich descriptions are
  provided so the readers can
  make their own
• This is often described as
• So, How do we get to the
  thick description?
                Analyzing Data
• Asking questions of your data…
   – What are people doing? What are they trying to
   – How exactly do they do this? What specific means
     and/or strategies do they use?
   – How do members talk about, characterize, and
     understand what is going on?
   – What assumptions are they making?
   – What do I see going on here? What did I learn from
     these notes?
   – How to get from data to analysis?
                Coding Data
• Coding leads you well on your way to
  transforming your fieldnotes into writings that
  speak to wider audiences
• You will sift through your notes and look for
  threads that can be woven together
• Definition: gives line-by-line categorization of
  specific notes
• Coding allows you to discover/create original
  theory in your data
• Grounded theory and emergent theory
• Read line-by-line through your fieldnotes,
  writing codes in the margins and re-read them
  until you have exhausted all possibilities of
  codes (themes, issues, ideas)
     Strengths and Weaknesses
• Strengths
  – Looks at the situation holistically
  – May arrive at greater understanding of the
    problem than other research processes
• Concerns
  – Possible bias on the part of the observer (which
    leads to validity concerns)
  – Generalizability (how generalizable are the
    findings from a small, purposely selected group)
    Criteria for Judging Qualitative
• Credibility – would the group being observed say the
  findings were credible? Are the findings logical and
• Transferability – Would a reader be willing to transfer
  the results to another group or setting?
• Dependability – the researcher accurately describes
  the context, setting and changes that may have
  occurred during the study.
• Conformability – if there were additional observers,
  would they describe the situation the same and
  arrive at the same conclusions.
   When to Conduct Ethnographic
• To define a problem when the problem is not clear
• To define a problem that is complex and embedded in
  multiple systems or sectors
• To identify participants when the participants, sectors, or
  stakeholders are not yet known or identified
• To clarify the range of settings where the problem or situation
  occurs at times when the settings are not fully identified,
  known, or understood
• To explore the factors associated with the problem in order to
  understand it
Making a Living: Five Adaptive Strategies

         Ethnographic Examples
• Foragers
  – Very few such groups
  – Eskimos/Inuit
  – !Kung (Africa)
  – Aboriginal Australians
•   All humans were foragers
    until 10,000 B.P.
•   Out-populated by food
    producers (J. Diamond)???
•   Bands

•   Social mobility
•   Egalitarianism
•   Gender-based division of
•   Age-based social
               Forager Subsistence
• Anthropologists have identified
  three major variations of the
  foraging subsistence pattern:
• Pedestrian: diversified hunting
  and gathering on foot
• Equestrian: concentrating on
  hunting large mammals from
• Aquatic: concentrating on fish
  and/or marine mammal hunting
  usually from boats
                     Population Levels
•   Foraging population densities are
    very low.
•   In harsh, relatively unproductive
    environments, densities of foragers
    have been as low as one person per
    10-50 square miles.
•   In rich environments, the densities
    have been as high as 10-30 people
    per square mile.
•   The optimal community size usually is
    about 25-30 people, depending on
    the availability of food and water
•   Thus high degree of stability
•   Most of human history as Foragers
TODAY almost completely exterminated
          Ethnographic Examples
• Horiculturalists
   – Tribal peoples living a
     ethnohistorical lifeway in
     the present?
   – Few such groups remain
      • Yanomami
      • Ashaninka
      • Kuikuru
  Horticulturalists - Agriculturalists

• Horticulture: an
  agricultural technology
  distinguished by the use of
  hand tools to grow
  domesticated plants.
• Does not use draft animals,
  irrigation, or specially
  prepared fertilizers.
• How are the subsistence
  practices, social
  organization, and political
  organization structured?
                 The oasis theory

• A type of environmental determinism.
• Southwest Asia became dryer 12 to 15,000 years ago.
• People congregated around oases.
• People collected the seeds of wild grasses
• This led to plant cultivation.
• Cultivation of plants attracted wild cattle and sheep and
• This led to animal domestication.
• Problem: Domestication did not occur first at oases
         Population growth theory

• Hunting, fishing and gathering were very productive
• So productive that population grew.
• More people needed more food
• People in marginal areas decided to domesticate animals and plants to
  provide new food
• Problems.
• Domestication is gradual and would not provide people with more food in
  the short term.
• Assumes domestication was intentional. However, people cannot predict
  which plants or animals could be domesticated.
Seasonal stress theory of plant domestication
• The earliest plant domestication took place around the margins of
   evaporating lakes. For example, the Jordan River Valley.
• Beginning in the Mesolithic, the climate became warmer with seasonal
   droughts (these are seasonal stresses.)
• Annuals are best adapted to this environment,
    – wild cereal and grains produce abundant seeds and survive for long
       periods of drought.
• People collected wild plants, for example, wheat, barley, and rye.
• They used sickles, which meant that plants with tough stems and seeds
   that did not readily scatter were the most likely to be carried back to
• Some lost seeds germinated at disturbed sites such as latrines, garbage
   pits, and burned over areas.
• People began to promote growth of these annuals.
The Ashaninka and Yanomami as Examples

• Incredible knowledge of
  the forest.
• Technology such as hoe,
  plow, steel.
• Women cultivate.
• Men slash and burn.
• Same plot for 1-3 years.
• Fallow 25 years.
•   Remaining indigenous horticulturalists…
              Social Organization

• No division of labor beyond
  age & gender
• Unranked kinship
• Bilateral kindred
• Little property, storage
• Matrilocality
• Patrilocality
           Political organization
• Informal, flexible
• Headman resolves
• Fission? When individual
  villages get to big…
• Ego/Enviro
  counterbalanced by
• “Keeper-of-Game”
           Political Organization

• What are the potential
  social cleavages?
• Gender, remember the
• Privacy
• Feuding
• Jealousy
Often balanced by religion
            Pastoralists – Africa
• Domesticated
• Diet of 88% Milk
• Blood Cake, drink, ritual
• Meat, all types
• Dung
• Urine, medicine and
  curing of hides
• Skin, bones, horns
        Pastoralists: The Maasi
• How does herding work on the savanna?
• Grazers of grass: cattle (wet season MILK) and
  sheep (dry MILK)
• Browsers (leaves) Camels (annual milk), goats
  (dry milk)
               Animal Husbandry
• How did we get from
  Hunting to Herding?
• Animal Husbandry
• Transition: ~ 10,000 BP
• This was also period of
  agriculture development
• First sheep and goats
• Later cattle, pigs, camels,
The hilly flanks theory of animal domestication
• Wild sheep and goats were domesticated in the hilly flanks or the foothills
   of the Zargos Mountains in present day Iraq and Iran
• Wild sheep and goats migrated up and down mountains due to the
   seasonal availability of grasses.
• Sheep and goats grazed in the lowlands during the winter and in the high
   past years. In the summer.
• People follow these animals, and became very familiar with their behavior
   and habits
• By 11,000 years ago, the percentage of immature sheep remains
• This indicates the presence of herd management
    – Females were spared for breeding and people were feasting on ram
• By 8000 years ago, domesticated sheep and goats were being kept at
   villages like Jericho.
                    Pastoral Nomadism
•   All members of the pastoral society
    follow the herd throughout the year.

•   Transhumance (seasonal movement
    of group with herd) or Agro

•   Part of group follows herd; other part
    maintains a home village (usually
    associated with some cultivation)

•   Move to cool highland valleys in the
    summer and warmer lowland valleys
    in the winter.
             Patterns of Pastoralism
• Small herd-management units
  consisting of extended patrilocal
• Marriage
• Bride Wealth/Bride Price – the
  cost of children
• Wealth stratification
• Patron-client ties established on
  the basis of cattle loaning
  relations with neighboring
  pastoral groups based upon
  animal raiding
• Decentralized political
• More productive than
• 10,000 kg of biomass per
• Maasai 2 – 6 km2 per person
• Animal husbandry by elders
• Stock-raiding
• Care for herds by women &
• Foraging
• Cash economy
• Pastoral economies
  – based upon
    domesticated herd
  – members of such
    economies may get
    agricultural produce
    through trade or their
    own subsidiary
                 Means of Production
•   Means of production include land,
    labor, technology, and capital.
•   Land: the importance of land varies
    according to method of production
•   Land is less important to a foraging
    economy than it is to a cultivating
•   Labor, tools, and specialization:
    nonindustrial economies are
    usually, but not always,
    characterized by more cooperation
    and less specialized labor than is
    found in industrial societies.
Major changes in agriculture, manufacturing,
production, and transportation had a profound
effect on the socioeconomic and cultural
conditions globally.

Typical characteristics of an industrial society
• a division of labor;
• cultural rationalization;
• a factory system and mechanization;
• the universal application of scientific
     methods to problem-solving;
• time discipline and deferred gratification;
• bureaucracy and administration by rules;
• and a socially and geographically mobile
           Industrial Production
• Non Agriculture     • Agriculture
  –   Factory            – Major crops
  –   Energy                •   Food
                            •   Drink
  –   Media
                            •   Fiber
  –   Leisure
                            •   Pharma
  –   Information           •   Fuel
  –   Military           – Animal Production
  –   Communication         • Cattle - milk, hide
  –   Politics?             • Pig – meat, oil
                            • Chicken – egg, meat
Industrial Europe
Potatoe Farm
Cattle Lot
Shantys and Hotels
Detriot Ghetto
        A post industrial strategy?
• Is there one? Perhaps in the USA, but can the same be
  said in the manufacturing centers of the globe?
• Are we living in an “information society?” What does
  that mean?
• Are there new strategies for living in this society?
• I would argue, while there are new strategies, we are
  still living within a capitalist society, our subsistence
  patterns have not changed. Our political organizations
  and agricultural practices are very much the same.
  What has changed?
• Globalization of trade, the rise of the information
  infrastructure, the spread of “throw away” capitalism.

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