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ME109: Ethnographic Methods and Practice

Methods

The purpose of this one-week course is to provide an intensive training in contemporary ethnographic methods and practice. During the course students will learn how to conduct ethnographic fieldwork, analyse ethnographic data and frame an ethnographic study. The focus will be on the application of this set of methods to understanding real world issues in context, and we will draw connections between traditional forms of ethnographic enquiry and emergent visual, digital, and material methods will be emphasised.

This course is aimed at postgraduates, researchers and professionals who are interested in using ethnographic research methods to understand social settings, relationships and practices.

Course Benefits
This course will provide students with:

  • an understanding of how to design and carry out a practicable piece of ethnographic research
  • an awareness of contemporary developments in the theory and practice of ethnographic studies
  • hands-on experience of the collection and analysis of ethnographic fieldwork
  • an emphasis on practical approaches to making ethnography part of successful theoretical and applied research
  • specialised teaching by researchers experienced with using ethnographic methods in a variety of projects

Prerequisites
Applicants must be at postgraduate level or higher. Experience of undertaking social research (in particular qualitative research) and familiarity with ethnographic approach and writings is desirable but not required.

Over the course of a week, this course will cover core components of the ethnographic approach. Starting with an introduction to ethnographic methods, the course will guide students through research design, data gathering and analysis, as well as relevant ethical issues. Students will therefore learn about a range of contemporary ethnographic approaches, as well as develop an understanding of how to set about undertaking an ethnographic study of their own. 

Course topics will be premised on the view that ethnographic methods cannot only provide a deep understanding of the social life of a particular ‘field,’ but also that they can offer a unique perspective into wider societal relations. Through a practice-based approach, and a focus on contemporary developments in ethnographic methods, this course will provide a solid methodological foundation for using ethnographic research to understand real-world issues in context.

The course is comprised of a 3-hour lecture each morning, and a 2-hour class or practical exercise each afternoon. Teaching will be delivered by research-active qualitative researchers who have used a range of ethnographic methods in their research to date and who are proponents of the use of ethnography in academic and applied research settings alike. 

The following teaching schedule is indicative only, and is subject to change.

Week 1
  Monday   Tuesday Wednesday  Thursday  Friday 
Lecture topic
Introduction to ethnography Participant observation  Ethnography and digital methodologies  Multi-sited ethnographic approaches  Ethics and contemporary developments

An optional 2-hour examination will take place on the final afternoon.

Main Texts
Agar, M. (1996) The Professional Stranger: An informal introduction to ethnography . San Diego, Academic Press.
Burawoy, M. (1991) Ethnography Unbound: Power and resistance in the modern etropolis. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Fetterman, D. (2010) Ethnography: Step-by-step. London/Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, P. (2007) Ethnography: Principles in practice [ 3rd edition]. London: Routledge.  
Hartley, J., Burgess, J. and Bruns, A. (2013) A Companion to New Media Dynamics. Chichester/Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Lofland, J., Snow, D., Anderson, L. and Lofland, L.H. (2004) Analyzing Social Settings: A guide to qualitative observation and analysis [4th edition] . Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Van Maanen, J. (2011) Tales of the Field, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

"It is a very good programme, I was really happy to attend. Very useful and stimulating for my research."
2014 participant on Ethnographic Methods and Practice

"Attending the course was very enjoyable and will have a huge impact on my research."
2014 participant on Ethnographic Methods and Practice

"I loved everyone's enthusiasm and learned an extraordinary amount, so thank you for offering this, and I will recommend it to everyone in my department."
2014 participant on Ethnographic Methods and Practice

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Course details


Dates
24-28 August 2015

Format
Lectures, classes and practical exercises

Assessment
2-hour examination (optional)

Location
New Academic Building, LSE

Teaching faculty
Dr Elena Gonzalez-Polledo|
Dr Alasdair Jones|
Department of Methodology

Tuition fees
Student rate: £935
Academic staff/charity rate: £1,250
Professional rate: £1,575



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