Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Everyday Ethnography

Instructor: Jennifer Deets (deetsj AT uncw DOT edu)

This course is designed to offer a perspective on research in everyday settings that embraces the sociocultural embeddedness of day-to-day endeavors and that aims to hone the essential techniques of ethnographic research. In this case, we focus on the classic "making the familiar strange" by examining local culture as lived by the constituents of the class. Culture is and happens everywhere people meet and ethnography is a type of research that anthropologists have long used to explore the nature of human culture. Everyday settings offer an opportunity to experience and share unique local cultures.

Our purpose will be to use the perspectives and approaches from the rich ethnographic tradition to examine and interpret facets of one or a few local settings. The settings for our everyday ethnography might be classrooms, retail spaces, hospital rooms, corporation boardrooms, or family kitchens. We will situate our fieldwork within the theoretical frameworks offered by cultural anthropologists. We will select a site; gain entry; conduct interviews; participate in and observe various facets of life in that place; and examine visual data, documents, and other material evidence. We will analyze these various data and, from our analyses, interpret their significance. All of these steps will be taken both independently and collectively. We will support each others' efforts with regular debriefings and with regular e-mail correspondence as analytic and interpretive memos.

The final product will be a collaboratively written journal manuscript that we will submit at the conclusion of the course. In an effort to minimize institutional difficulties, the instructor will submit all necessary IRB paperwork prior to the start of the semester, however, discussion of the approval process and implications of it for research will be held during the first weeks of the course.

Last Update: February 5, 2010