to writer: The Ethnography place ( the place to be described will be the “Boylston- Station Inbound- It is situated in Boston- The entrance is on the corner of Boston Common Park- and it descends underground to the T stop. Theres benches outside this entrance and lots of places to sit , even on the grass to observe). This assignment has to be well written- still considering i’m an average sociology student- Do as you see most fitted.Please contact me through email if anything.
An Ethnography of ______(a place)
Goal: You are to conduct a study of a place where there are people doing something in the city. WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s it like where people scalp tickets, wait for the T, ride the subway, sit and drink coffee in Starbucks, play pool, hang out in a bar, shop for groceries, walk the dog, …things people do in the city in one location. The aim is to describe in sociological terms the experience of being part of a particular setting, from the perspective of its participants. In no more than eight double-spaced pages, describe your ethnography of a setting (e.g., Ã¢â‚¬Å“An Ethnography of a T Stop,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“An Ethnography of StarbucksÃ¢â‚¬Â).
Criteria for Picking a Setting:
1) Pick a spot to study that is off campus and new to you. The more familiar you are with the place, the harder it will be to study it as a stranger.
2) Pick a place where you do not need permission to be there and observe, or where your hanging out will not be suspicious or worrisome (e.g, not an ATM or bank but a train on the MBTA). Beware, some public places have security that may not want you hanging out, like some department stores or malls. Some public places, however, like a very small store, will require permission (even though it is a public place) because you will be so visible.
3) Pick a place that is not too large or overwhelming, like an entire shopping mall or the entire Boston Common. If you pick a place like this, break it down and study a setting within it (e.g., the Prudential CenterÃ¢â‚¬â€œstudy the food court, the information desk area, a few carts, an entrance to the mall, or Haymarket on weekendÃ¢â‚¬â€œjust pick one vendor).
4) Pick a place where there is some interaction to observe and maybe participate in (not an empty library, for example). The setting should be one where there are people to observe and talk to. The more people, the easier it will be for you to hang out and not be noticed.
5) Pick a place that is convenient (close enough), free (donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do places with cover charge unless you want to go there anyway), and safe for you to visit.
6) Pick a place that people routinely us so that you can make four easy visits to study it for about an hour each time (not a particular band that plays infrequently). Ideally, it is a place that has ongoing activity almost all the time, so you can go anytime (like Park St. Subway station platform). Some places, like churches, only have activity at certain times.
How to Pick a Setting:
Use online or print guides to Boston or features like the Boston Globe Thursday Ã¢â‚¬Å“Calendar,Ã¢â‚¬Â go for a walk, or talk to friends for ideas. Remember, every setting is interesting sociologically, it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to be exotic. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Case the jointÃ¢â‚¬Â before committing yourself to it. Make an existential leap, otherwise you will spend too much time searching rather than studying, and this is an exercise in the method, so the setting shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter that much. If you were going for months, that is a different story. If you are doing this extra credit, start your ethnography asap.
Examples: laundromats, bookstores (if Borders or Coop, may have cafÃƒÂ©, which is separate), lobbies of hotels or movies, gas station, streetball in Fenway, gym (one aspect), library (one aspectÃ¢â‚¬â€œfree computer, reference area, reading room, check out area), cafes/coffeeshops, fastfood restaurants, grocery store (aspect ofÃ¢â‚¬â€œcheck out line, deli counter, aisles), airport (place within), waiting room, food court, panhandlers in one location, clubs, pool, bowling.
See me or the TA if you are unsure if your choice is appropriate, or if it is not public and easily studied without permission or consent.
Gathering information. There are six ways to collection information for your ethnography.
1) Look at your own experiences in the setting, especially as you become socialized to the place over four visits, each for at least 60 minutes. You are a participant, not just an observer.
2) Observe the setting, both the people and the physical surrounding. Position yourself in a way so you can easily watch what happens without overly intruding. If the setting is complex, sometimes observe the entire action, other times observe a single personÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s actions or the actions of a few people together, and other times pick a particular spot and watch what happens there.
3) Talk to people about what their experiences are in the setting (try at least one person per visit)
4) Notice artifacts in your setting.
5) If done very carefully, you might consider norm violation as a way of exposing the culture of your setting.
6) Try going at different times, if you have reason to think that the culture of your place fluctuates. If so, consider why it does and how it affects the experience of people there.
Notes: Whenever possible, take detailed notes about what you are experiencing, what you see and hear, and what people tell you. Try to take notes, at least briefly, right on the spot unless that is too obvious or uncomfortable. If you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take notes there, maybe step away from the setting after 15 or 20 minutes and go to a place where you can write. In either case, as soon as you leave the setting, write more detailed notes, being as specific as possible (since these notes will be used as Ã¢â‚¬Å“dataÃ¢â‚¬Â for your paper).
Ethics: If you are doing your ethnography in a public place, you do not have to tell people you are observing and/or participating there. If you talk to people present in an everyday, conversational way, then again you do not need to talk about your ethnography. However, if you find that it is easier to approach people by telling them you are doing this extra project, then by all means talk about your project. If you are studying a setting that is restricted, you need to inform people and ask permissionÃ¢â‚¬â€œavoid picking this type of setting, if at all possible.
1) Introduction: (1 page)
a) Site description: Describe what the activities and people look like in your setting, how many use it, what the setting looks like physically, and where certain actions occur there. In other words, how is it laid out, and in general, what kinds of research subjects are you studying?
b) Methods: Describe how you placed yourself in the setting and where you stood or went when you were there and how well you fit in as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“regular.Ã¢â‚¬Â To what extent did you participate? How many times did you visit your setting, what time of day was it, and for how long? How did you take notes? How many people did you talk to, and in what manner (e.g., small talk, quick conversation, extended interview). Were there any limitations or restrictions on what or when you could observe in your setting and whether or how you talked to people?
2) Local culture: (3 pages)
a) What are your settingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s formal rules. What informal norms also operate in your setting guiding how people are to behave or not behave? Describe as many norms as you see influencing the overall character of your setting (e.g., how people act or not act, how they interact or not interact with other people or with the physical space, how they speak or not speak to others, etc.). Do not forget to note norms that might involve nonverbal behavior (like gestures, eye contact, positioning of bodies) as well as the use of any special language or way of speaking.
b) Is the material culture of your setting important to the way that people experience themselves in it? How is the material culture used? (e.g, pool hall– use of table, cues, chalk; club– importance of dress)
c) Other than the obvious or formal use of your setting, does it have uses that are more informal or unintended? (e.g., some gyms–formal purpose is exercise but informal might be meeting people)
d) How would you describe your settingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s routines? (repeated or patterned actions)
3) Social structure and groups (3 pages)
a) What kinds of statuses are there? Within any one status, do you see different roles that people play? What appearances, actions and/or behaviors distinguish these statuses and roles from each other?
b) How would you characterize the kind of group(s) in your setting? Is it more of a group of strangers or a group where people are more familiar? If there are different types of groups, how are they different? How are the groups distinct from one another? How do the groups interact?
c) Do different groups use your setting in different ways and/or follow different norms?
4) Deviance (Ã‚Â½ page)
a) Were there any competing definitions of what was considered normal behavior in your setting?
b) Did you observe any deviance and, if so, what happened?
c) How did people react to the deviance? How did their reactions tell you more about your settingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s culture?
5) Stratification (Ã‚Â½ page)
a) How would you characterize the social class makeup of your setting? What status symbols are there that suggest class membership? Sometimes, it is possible to define an entire setting as class based (e.g., upper class shopping malls); is your setting seen by most people as predominately appealing to one class or another, or is it mixed in its appear and use? How do you see our larger social class system in interactions?
b) Would you consider your setting multicultural? How are gender roles, race, and ethnicity expressed in your settingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s culture and social structure?
a) Structure your paper in a way so that you can write about all of the points/issues mentioned above. You do not need to actually label each section with headings, although you can do that if you want. Either way, use complete sentences to report and discuss your observations and findings.
b) Do not write in generalities. For example, if a major norm in your setting is that people do not talk to each and act like total strangers, give concrete descriptions and examples of this from your notes. So frequently use descriptive examples from your notes to backup statements you make. These examples can be what you observed, heard, or were told. Use quotations marks around words or sentences used by your subjects.
c) In your paper do not use real names of people. If you refer to people, give them numbers or make up names for them.
d) Give your paper a title and make sure your name, ID number and course sequences appear on the first page. Hand in hard copy, but keep a backup copy for yourself. Do not sent your papers as attachments through email.
A maximum of five points can be earned from this extra credit. The points are not automatic and depend on the care, thoughtfulness, and completeness of your paper, given the above questions and your ability to understand your setting in sociological terms. Papers are to be written independently. Although you will not be graded for grammar, please try to make your writing as correct and clear as possible.
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