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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Qué es la Etnografía?

Esto escribí hace poquito aquí, en una red de investigadores.

I don't think my first questions are urgent now.

What worries me, in the sense of what occupies a meaningful part of my time and hence reduces my energy everytime I'm starting a new project, is that I've seen that in applied research, ethnography is being equalized and classified as a Qualitative Research Technique, when that's not the case. I'm becoming more and more tired of having to explain myself each time. Especially because I haven't found a cut-to-the-chase wording for it. This is a challenge for me: putting what-Ethnography-is-to-clients using simple words. This difficulty in part means that I have to work more on it. It's always possible to find a simple way of putting words into things.

Ethnography is about grasping and holding into meanings from local settings, understanding local versions of what-reality-is, discovering how and what symbolic values anchor and configure local material cultures and human centered interactions and human-nature simbiosis.

Ethnographers will use any tools that suit collaborative processes of connecting and contrasting viewpoints, objects, discourses, multiple-senses experiences, emotions, stories, etc. If I ask myself, what ethnography is for me, I'd answer, it's all about learning local configurations of desire. That's it.

If I have to dress or become a Shaman, a teacher, a peasant, party-goer, mass-consumer native, an employee or a boss or a superviser, a naïve explorer, etc., as well as (and to be able to remain as) a researcher, I will.
Using focus groups, conversational interviews, structured interviews, security-cameras, invisible cameras, projective techniques, biographic interviewing, photography, surveys, family photo-albums, train people to make daily entries on personal dairies or logbooks or taking pictures, etc., I will.
The goals is the same, despite the language metaphor used: hunt, seed and harvest, meaning, let meaning emerge, deconstrue or build meaning.
Methodological delicatessens have more a didactic and/or propedeutic goal, that is, to show how you can do it too, or how we kind-of did it.

My main concerns are two:
1) symbolic values: how desires configure in these particular kinds of settings,
2) value generation: how to connect different levels of findings, to value generation processes (that should be) going on inside organizations

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