Cloth: 978-0-226-20680-6 | Paper: 978-0-226-20681-3 | Electronic: 978-0-226-20685-1
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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Drawing on years of teaching and field research experience, the authors develop a series of guidelines, suggestions, and practical advice about how to write useful fieldnotes in a variety of settings, both cultural and institutional. Using actual unfinished, "working" notes as examples, they illustrate options for composing, reviewing, and working fieldnotes into finished texts. They discuss different organizational and descriptive strategies, including evocation of sensory detail, synthesis of complete scenes, the value of partial versus omniscient perspectives, and of first person versus third person accounts. Of particular interest is the author's discussion of notetaking as a mindset. They show how transforming direct observations into vivid descriptions results not simply from good memory but more crucially from learning to envision scenes as written. A good ethnographer, they demonstrate, must learn to remember dialogue and movement like an actor, to see colors and shapes like a painter, and to sense moods and rhythms like a poet.
The authors also emphasize the ethnographer's core interest in presenting the perceptions and meanings which the people studied attach to their own actions. They demonstrate the subtle ways that writers can make the voices of people heard in the texts they produce. Finally, they analyze the "processing" of fieldnotes—the practice of coding notes to identify themes and methods for selecting and weaving together fieldnote excerpts to write a polished ethnography.
This book, however, is more than a "how-to" manual. The authors examine writing fieldnotes as an interactive and interpretive process in which the researcher's own commitments and relationships with those in the field inevitably shape the character and content of those fieldnotes. They explore the conscious and unconscious writing choices that produce fieldnote accounts. And they show how the character and content of these fieldnotes inevitably influence the arguments and analyses the ethnographer can make in the final ethnographic tale.
This book shows that note-taking is a craft that can be taught. Along with Tales of the Field and George Marcus and Michael Fisher's Anthropology as Cultural Criticism, Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes is an essential tool for students and social scientists alike.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Inscribing Experienced/Observed Realities
Implications for Writing Fieldnotes
Reflections: Writing Fieldnotes and Ethnographic Practice
IN THE FIELD:PARTICIPATING, OBSERVING, AND JOTTING NOTES
Making Jottings: How, Where, and When
Participating in Order to Write
Two Illustrations of Jottings
Jottings as Mnelnonic Devices: What Words and Phrases?
Reflections: Wrlting and Ethnographic Marginality
At the Desk
Stance and Audience in Writing Fieldnotes
The Process of Writing Up
Reflections. "Writing" and "Reading" Modes
WRITING UP FIELDNOTES II: CREATING SCENES ON THE PAGE
Writing Detailed Notes: Depiction of Scenes
Wrlting Extended Entries: Organization
In-Process Analytic Writing: Asides, Commentaries, and Memos
Reflections: Fieldnotes as Products of Writing Choices
PURSUING MEMBERS' MEANINGS
Imposing Exogenous Meanings
Representing Members' Meanings
Members' Categories in Use: Processes and Problems
Race, Gender, Class, and Members' Meanings
Local Events and Social Forces
Reflections: Using Fieldnotes to Discover/Create Members' Meanings
PROCESSING FIELDNOTES: CODING AND MEMOING
Reading Fieldnotes as a Data Set
Asking Questions of Fieldnotes
Writing Initial Memos
Reflections: Creating Theory from Fieldnotes
WRITING AN ETHNOGRAPHY
Developing a Thematic Narrative
Transposing Fieldnotes into Ethnographic Text
Producing a Completed Ethnographic Document
Reflections: Between Members and Readers