Synopses & Reviews
In Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, Robert M. Emerson, Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. Shaw present a series of guidelines, suggestions, and practical advice for creating useful fieldnotes in a variety of settings, demystifying a process that is often assumed to be intuitive and impossible to teach. Using actual unfinished notes as examples, the authors illustrate options for composing, reviewing, and working fieldnotes into finished texts. They discuss different organizational and descriptive strategies and show how transforming direct observations into vivid descriptions results not simply from good memory but 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.and#160;This new edition reflects the extensive feedback the authors have received from students and instructors since the first edition was published in 1995. As a result, they have updated the race, class, and gender section, created new sections on coding programs and revising first drafts, and provided new examples of working notes.and#160;An essential tool for budding social scientists, the second edition of Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes will be invaluable for a new generation of researchers entering the field.
Ethnography is a qualitative method that focuses on the culture of everyday life and examines the diversity of worldviews that shape the social politics of local communities, making the world and#147;safe for human differences.and#8221; In recent years, the ethnographic method has spread from its origins in cultural anthropology and sociology to a variety of academic disciplines and even to the business world and the military. In this guidebook, Kristen Ghodsee offers ethnographers across all these disciplines and contexts practical advice on writing prose that is compelling and accessible to fellow scholars and nonspecialist readers alike. In addition to issues of sentence-level clarity, she addresses such matters as how to incorporate both theory and ethnographic details, how to construct and effectively deploy dialogue, and how to choose and discuss images. The book is structured into twelve brief chapters, each including judiciously selected excerpts and examples from model ethnographies, and it concludes with an extensive bibliography.
Ethnography centers on the culture of everyday life. So it is ironic that most scholars who do research on the intimate experiences of ordinary people write their books in a style that those people cannot understand. In recent years, the ethnographic method has spread from its original home in cultural anthropology to fields such as sociology, marketing, media studies, law, criminology, education, cultural studies, history, geography, and political science. and#160;Yet, while more and more students and practitioners are learning how to write ethnographies, there is little or no training on how to write ethnographies well.
and#160;From Notes to Narrative picks up where methodological training leaves off.and#160; Kristen R. Ghodsee, an award-winning ethnographer, addresses common issues that arise in ethnographic writing. Ghodsee works through sentence-level details, such as word choice and structure. She also tackles bigger-picture elements, such as how to incorporate theory and ethnographic details, how to effectively deploy dialogue, and how to avoid distracting elements such as long block quotations and in-text citations. She includes excerpts and examples from model ethnographies. The book concludes with a bibliography of other useful writing guides and nearly one hundred examples of eminently readable ethnographic books.
About the Author
Robert M. Emerson is professor emeritus in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Judging Delinquents: Context and Process in Juvenile Court, editor of Contemporary Field Research: Perspectives and Formulations, and coauthor of Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes.Rachel I. Fretz is a lecturer in the Writing Programs unit at UCLA.Linda L. Shaw is professor in and chair of the sociology department at California State University, San Marcos.