Fieldwork in Anthropology

Choose ONE of the following options: 1. Case studies of events 1. The study of cultural events has long been a staple of ethnographic fieldwork. Anthropologists have studied everything from the performance of calendrical rituals and rites of passage to public spectacle and the eruption of social conflict in all its guises. Events teach us about the structure of society as well as what forces threaten to undermine it. 2. Choose a cultural event and describe its purpose and organization. The event you choose should be open to the public or by invitation. Attend at least one such instance of the event and provide a detailed account of the event, including your experience of the event. To get a more comprehensive view of the event discuss it with (or interview) three or more people who were at the same event or perhaps played an active role. Compare your accounts and record the similarities and differences in experience. 3. Provide an analysis of the event. What is the cultural meaning of the event? How did the playing out of the event affect the respondents? Provide recommendations on how you could improve your research methods. 2. Designing a Survey 1. A survey is a method of discovering patterns in the way human groups and populations think, perceive, and behave. Surveys are generally designed to obtain information from segments of human social groups or populations. These “samples” are needed to make inferences and predictions about groups or populations too numerous to survey entirely. 2. Formulate a working hypothesis for your survey. This will be the principle which guides all aspects of your research. Choose a group of people whom you will survey. Define what criteria you will use to recruit respondents (e.g., age, gender, geography). Decide upon a strategy for contacting respondents and getting them to answer your survey. 3. Construct a set of questions that you will pose to respondents. Keep it manageable, between 10 and 20 questions should suffice. 4. Devise an efficient way of recording, retrieving, and presenting your data. 2 5. Discuss how successful the survey was in confirming your hypothesis. Provide recommendations on how you would change the design of the survey if you could do it all over again. 3. Moderating a Focus Group 1. This option requires researchers to conduct interviews with groups of people in order to quickly discover key aspects of a research topic. Focus group research is often conducted as a preliminary step to more extensive, quantitatively focused research. Focus group research is primarily an instrument of discovery. Focus groups usually have an attention span of no more than two hours, so it is important to make efficient use of that brief window of time by diligent planning. 2. Choose a subject you want to learn about. Devise a set of questions you want answered. Recruit five to ten people for your focus group and organize a time and space in which the group is to meet. Decide upon a method for recording the focus group session. (You might need an assistant here.) Make sure all members of the group participate. 3. Analyze your data. Provide recommendations on improving the implementation and design of your research. 4. Designing a Fieldwork Project 1. This option is for students who intend on taking the advanced fieldwork methods course. It will assist you in preparing for a more intensive fieldwork project and as such is more comprehensive in scope than the other options listed above. 2. Define your research topic. Outline your theoretical, substantive, or personal interest in the subject of study. Refer to any previous research you may have done or other experience that is relevant. If it is a totally new subject matter mention it and anything that might have prompted you to choose the topic of research. 3. Literature review: list, outline, and provide a brief overview of existing literature on the topic of your research. If it is a multi-disciplinary subject you should highlight works by anthropologists, if possible, or specify the anthropological relevance of your topic. 4. Describe the methods you will use to research your subject. If you choose to conduct focus groups, surveys or structured interviews you should include a sample questionnaire and specify what kind of data you expect to retrieve and how you might organize such data for expedient analysis. For participant observation of any kind you must specify where, with whom, and what procedures you will take to gain access. 5. Outline what interpretive tools you will be using to analyze your data, i.e., what concepts, hypotheses or theories are being tested in your research. Make connections to relevant lectures and/or readings where possible.

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