Favorite Readings

The following are just a few resources that I have found helpful in my journeys in culture …

Emerson, R. (1987). “Four Ways to Improve Fieldwork.”  Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 16 (1): 69-89.

Spend more time in the field, make your work more theoretically explicit, pay better attention to the categories and analyses of the people you work with (rather than treating them as simple data to be interpreted), and make the practical interaction and textual practices by means of which ethnography is produced more explicit.

Emerson, R., Fretz, R. and Shaw, L. (1995).  Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

One of the best books on the practice of writing fieldnotes. Good practical how-to advice is mixed with some thoughtful warnings about pitfalls afflicting beginners.

Fetterman, D. M. (1989). Ethnography: Step by Step. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

As the title suggests, this is a how-to book on ethnographies and ethnographic research. The book answers the question: what is ethnographic research and outlines a step by step approach to conducting this type of research. Chapter subjects include methods and techniques of ethnographic fieldwork, equipment needed for ethnographic research, how to analyze your findings, the writing process, and ethics in ethnographic research.

Hammersley,M., & Atkinson, P. (1983). Ethnography: Principles in Practice. London: Taveston.

This work deals with what ethnographic research is, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how to go about conducting the research for your own project.

Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (formerly Urban Life). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

This is a quarterly publication containing recent ethnographic studies and what’s new in ethnography. This publication is a good source of information on and examples of how other researchers are conducting their own ethnographic studies.

Sanjek, Roger (1990). Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

A collection of essays addressing topics ranging from writing notes in the field to the transformation of fieldnotes into ethnographic text.

Spradley, James. (1979). The Ethnographic Interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

This is a popular recipe book for doing and analyzing interviews. The discussion of question-types is useful.

Stoller, Paul (1989). The Taste of Ethnographic Things. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

The author argues against the privileging of vision as the primary mode of representing experience.

Van Maanen, J. (1988). Tales of the Field. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

The author provides an informal introduction to ethnography addressed to fieldworkers.

What are your favorite readings?  I would love to hear what has been helpful for you in learning another culture and group of people.   Click here to let me know.