Ethnography Lessons: A Primer

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9781598745801: Ethnography Lessons: A Primer
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Harry Wolcott takes the reader inside the process of constructing an ethnographic study, offering a wealth of lessons from one of the masters. In this concise primer, he provides a set of models from which to organize a study, explains how to pick the various components that go into the ethnographic report, advises on how to create analogies and metaphors to help explain your work, and identifies the key features of an effective ethnography. He also discusses the role of serendipity and questions of ethics in doing ethnographic work. Learn the essentials of ethnography from one of the masters.

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About the Author:

Harry Wolcott was an anthropology professor at the University of Oregon and one of the leading writers on educational anthropology, qualitative research methods, and ethnographic writing. Some of his best known books includeThe Man in the Principal’s Office, Art of Fieldwork, Ethnography: A Way of Seeing,Writing Up Qualitative Research, and Sneaky Kid and Its Aftermath: Ethics and Intimacy in Fieldwork.

Review:

"In this methodological primer Harry Wolcott, who has so masterfully guided us on ethnography as a “way of seeing” for more than 40 years, distills the key elements of the genre as only he can, based on a self-described “lifetime of ethnography.” Drawing on his five major studies – from his work with the Kwakiutl to The Man in the Principal’s Office to his cultural analysis of beer gardens in Zimbabwe – Professor Wolcott weaves together lessons that are at once eminently engaging and enormously instructive. In this compact but mighty book, readers will find both a fascinating autoethnographic journey and concrete recommendations for organizing, writing, and evaluating purposeful, thorough, and ethically responsible ethnographic accounts. As this volume and Harry Wolcott’s larger corpus show, the ethnographic enterprise is well worth the long-term commitment it simultaneously commands and inspires."

—Teresa McCarty, Arizona State University



"Harry Wolcott’s “lessons” from a long, productive fieldwork and writing career offer a worthwhile read for all—whether mature scholar or budding researcher. He retraces ethnographic and publishing adventures with a “skill at moving words around” familiar to readers of his previous books. His honesty about the pluses and minuses of “serendipity” reminds us that anthropologists live in the same worlds they study and strive to describe."

—Roger Sanjek, former Queens College CUNY professor and the author of Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology



“Ethnography Lessons: A Primer emerges as a book of advice from a wise, highly experienced elder (not necessarily a “tribal” elder). Here Wolcott is not sermonizing; but giving astute and straight forward observations and comments.... Those who have known Harry Wolcott over the years of his long career are able to almost hear his voice speaking from the pages of A Primer.”

—Edith King, Applied Anthropologist

“Wolcott is clearly an accomplished scholar and experienced ethnographer, providing the reader with vignettes from a variety of unusual fieldwork situations. His book is an interesting read with useful tidbits about conducting ethnographic research intertwined around the stories.... [T]his book could be used successfully in an undergraduate introductory or methods course, in combination with a textbook. Wolcott provides information about what happens during ethnographic research, and many incidents described in the book would prompt useful class discussions. Lastly, this book will be interesting for anyone curious about the career of an accomplished ethnographer.”

—Anthropology Review Database


"Its easy-going, yet engaging style is intended to reach a widely encompassing audience — seasoned ethnographers, as well as those who are new to the field."
—Denise Mifsud, The Qualitative Report

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Publisher: Routledge, 2010
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