The Ethnographic Interview by James P. Spradley

By James P. Spradley

The Ethnographic Interview is a pragmatic, self-teaching guide which courses scholars step-by-step via interview concepts typical to investigate ethnography and tradition. The textual content additionally teaches scholars easy methods to examine the knowledge they gather, and the way to jot down an ethnography. The appendices contain examine questions and writing projects.

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Ethnographers adopt a particular stance toward people with whom they work. By word and by action, in subtle ways and direct statements, they say, “ I want to understand the world from your point of view. I want to know what you know in the way you know it. I want to understand the meaning of your experience, to walk in your shoes, to feel things as you feel them, to explain things as you explain them. ” This frame of reference is a radical departure from treating people as either subjects, respondents, or actors.

The clerk called Jim Johnson’s name, no one appeared. 8. The clerk read off a list of names for men to appear; none did. He said they forfeited their bail. These are all actions and events I saw. I believed they were all separate events, ones I could understand. But informants explained that these were all the sa m e kind o f thing. They called them ways to beat a drunk c h a rg e . When a tramp says, “ Guilty,” they told me, he isn’t necessarily saying, “ I was drunk” ; many are not intoxicated when arrested.

Many people confuse respondents with informants because both answer questions and ap p ea r to give information about their culture. One of the most important distinctions between these two roles has to do with the language used to formulate questions. Survey research with respondents almost always employs the language of the social scientist. The questions arise out of the social scientist’s culture. Ethno­ graphic research, on the other hand, depends more fully on the language of the informant.

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