Monday, June 29, 2009

Hammersley's "Ethnography: Problems and Prospects:" Many of the large concerns and questions that have been raised in class about educational ethnography are addressed in this article. Hammersly contrasts the use of ethnography in education with its use in anthropology as a means of questioning the viability of its use in ed. His concerns are:

1) There is always a tension between relaying the first-hand experiences of participant-observation and the need to analyze those experiences.

2) Ed ethnographies are often conducted with much less face time and no long-term immersion in the community being studies. The effect can be decontextualization due to lack of contact time.

3) Less time in the field means fewer opportunities to understand the temporal conditions of an environment.

4) The context for the study is usually smaller which may lead to gaps in understanding.

5) Interviews may not be sufficiently ethnographic in nature due to their artificial construction.

6) The highly political nature of some ed ethno creates a large amount of systemic bias.

That said, there is something (what to name it?) that we get from ed ethno that mitigates these concerns.

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