Research Practice for Cultural Studies: Ethnographic Methods and Lived Cultures

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And, by using and significantly reviewing the phenomenological perspective, he created a conceptual apparatus that made it possible to handle micro-sociological internalization of values and macroscopic issues the cultural construction of institutions, ideologies and changing social norms. Berger starter publishing prolifically from Albeit they were well received, they generated great upheaval in religious circles because they questioned many of the key assumptions of the religious hierarchy at the time , especially the Protestant Church. Between and , he developed his view of the nature of culture and social reality and published the works which garnered him international acclaim.

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In Invitation to Sociology , he described the intellectual parameters of this science and the characteristics of how to exercise it. As such, the reality perceived and experience by people is socially and differentially located in society. Until the late s, Berger did not show a lot of interest in politics. However, in the summer of , his relationship with Ivan Illich made him start to explore the theoretical connections between his previous work on culture, and modernization, third-world development and politics. And, with Sociology Reinterpreted , he expanded his views on the sociological method.

Four Perspectives on Cultural Studies

In her work, Mary Douglas clearly reveals her concern with social order. Starting from a wide range of materials from primitive groups, Douglas developed major ideas about ritual , symbolic deviation , social limits and compared cosmologies. Her perceptive view of how cultural norms are dramatized and affirmed constituted a valuable complement to the ideas of authors such as Berger and Habermas.

The results of her oldest field work were published in a short monography titled Peoples of the Lake Nyasa Region However, her first important book, The Lele of the Kasai, was published in Even though it was most mostly descriptive and ethnographic, this book foreshadowed her subsequent research by containing perceptive analyses of symbolism and ritual.

We need to jump to to talk about the book that drew international attention to her work and that is still her most remarkable and important contribution to the theoretical analysis of culture : Natural Symbols. This book was an analysis of culture as well as a challenge to its contemporaneous expression. Douglas continued to work on compared cultural analysis throughout the entire decade.

A portion of this work was transposed to The World of Goods written in partnership with Bardon Isherwood , published in , and Risk and Culture in collaboration with Aaron Wildavsky , published in As it happened with Berger, Mary Douglas inspired hundreds of social scientists that have felt the need to capture the symbolic world more efficiently. And just like Foucault, Habermas and Berger, she proposed a perspective of culture that sheds light on contemporaneous conditions. Michel Foucault is clearly different to Berger and Douglas. Although his work derives from cultural circumstances that could be considered easy to take in or even familiar to the researchers of the main current of social science , its relative clarity tends to become opaque.

His work brims with reflections about the nature of cultural development and presents a stimulating method of cultural analysis. As with his previous research, he focused on the role of language and terminology in shaping mental perceptions and how they affected ideas, ordering of space , tools and social relationships. From then on, Foucault focused on the origin and evolution of the science disciplines that study conduct, society and culture. This study, The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences , addresses the key language categories that enable social science thinking.

Categories relating to language and discourse, history, value, usefulness, exchanging, wealth and work, among others.


Foucault felt the need to clarify and systematize his investigation methods for himself and his growing group of intellectual disciples and, as a result, published The Archeology of Knowledge This book contains the most stimulating sketch for reorienting cultural analysis. This change meant placing growing emphasis on power.

(PDF) The Ethnographic Choice: Why Ethnographers Do Ethnography | Keith Berry -

Critical theory emerged in Germany in the decade after the First World War. In the wake of the Nuremberg trials and other revelations about the war, he understood that he had been educated under a politically criminal system.

He took on an openly critical attitude toward the German political and academic elite albeit his stance was also pacifist and geared toward dialog. At around this same time, Habermas also developed an interest in Marxist theory. As a result of this ambivalence, he was attracted by Dialectic of Enlightenment by Horkheimer and Adorno, which he read in This was his first contact with the critical school.

Photo taken in Heidelberg, April , [1] by Jeremy J. Shapiro at the Max Weber-Soziologentag. Horkheimer is at the front, to the left; Adorno is at the front, to the right.

Arts and Humanities

Habermas is at the back, to the right, swiping his hair across his hair. Siegfried Landshut is at the back, on the left. During this time, he attracted international attention as a theoretician of the student protest movement. This movement made him hope that critical theory could eventually influence politics and helped shape his views of his predecessors at the Frankfurt school. Habermas wrote a lot since the early s. In Theory and Practice, his oldest work, he examines what he believes to be a degeneration of political theory by moving from studying virtue and decency to studying effective means to manipulate the individuals as typified in modern social science.

He then published Knowledge and Human Interests in , which reflected a systematic effort to develop an alternative perspective for social sciences. With Legitimation Crisis , Habermas refocused his attention from the more theoretical and philosophical issues in his previous work to researching into the social and cultural problems faced by advanced capitalist societies.

His later work was increasingly more focused on cultural issues. Communication and the Evolution of Society questions how best to analyze the issues of legitimacy and cultural evolution and self-identity. This book shows major influences from theories of communication , especially the work of John R. It's composed from a third person's perspective by getting the data from the members on the site. The ethnographer stays as omniscient correspondent of actualities out of sight. The realist reports information in a measured style ostensibly uncontaminated by individual predisposition, political objectives, and judgment.

The analyst will give a detailed report of the everyday life of the individuals under study. The ethnographer also uses standard categories for cultural description e. The ethnographer produces the participant's views through closely edited quotations and has the final word on how the culture is to be interpreted and presented. Critical ethnography is a kind of ethnographic research in which the creators advocate for the liberation of groups which are marginalized in society.

Critical researchers typically are politically minded people who look to take a stand of opposition to inequality and domination. For example, a critical ethnographer might study schools that provide privileges to certain types of students, or counseling practices that serve to overlook the needs of underrepresented groups. The important components of a critical ethnographer are to incorporate a value-laden introduction, empower people by giving them more authority, challenging the status quo, and addressing concerns about power and control.

A critical ethnographer will study issues of power, empowerment, inequality, inequity, dominance, repression, hegemony, and victimization. Digital ethnography is also seen as virtual ethnography. This type of ethnography is not so typical as ethnography recorded by pen and pencil. Digital ethnography allows for a lot more opportunities to look at different cultures and societies. Most ethnographies take place in specific places where the observer can observe specific instances that relate to the topic involved. Relational Ethnography articulates studying fields rather than places or processes rather than processed people.

But rather the processes involving configurations of relations among different agents or institutions. According to Dewan , the researcher is not looking for generalizing the findings; rather, they are considering it in reference to the context of the situation.

Qualitative Research: (Critical) Ethnography Guidelines

In this regard, the best way to integrate ethnography in a quantitative research would be to use it to discover and uncover relationships and then use the resultant data to test and explain the empirical assumptions. The ethnographic method is different from other ways of conducting social science approach due to the following reasons:. According to the leading social scientist, John Brewer , data collection methods are meant to capture the "social meanings and ordinary activities" [12] of people informants in "naturally occurring settings" [12] that are commonly referred to as "the field.

These can include participant observation, field notes, interviews, and surveys. Interviews are often taped and later transcribed, allowing the interview to proceed unimpaired of note-taking, but with all information available later for full analysis. Secondary research and document analysis are also used to provide insight into the research topic.

In the past, kinship charts were commonly used to "discover logical patterns and social structure in non-Western societies". In order to make the data collection and interpretation transparent, researchers creating ethnographies often attempt to be "reflexive". Reflexivity refers to the researcher's aim "to explore the ways in which [the] researcher's involvement with a particular study influences, acts upon and informs such research". This factor has provided a basis to criticize ethnography. Traditionally, the ethnographer focuses attention on a community, selecting knowledgeable informants who know the activities of the community well.

Participation, rather than just observation, is one of the keys to this process. Ybema et al. Ethnographic research can range from a realist perspective, in which behavior is observed, to a constructivist perspective where understanding is socially constructed by the researcher and subjects.