Week 2: A proposal for your course project is due this week. This proposal should include the following:
- A description of the organization you have chosen and your relationship to it. This can be a workplace or an organization where you volunteer. (1-2 paragraphs)
- A discussion of your goals for conducting a cultural analysis of the organization you have chosen and the potential value of such an analysis. (1-2 paragraphs)
- An explanation of your strategy for conducting research. There are two kinds of research you will be doing: (1) examining secondary sources, such as scholarly books and articles, for relevant background information on organizational culture and communication, and (2) conducting your own ethnographic research, which can include observation, interviews, and qualitative surveys. For now, discuss your plan for researching secondary sources and which method or methods you plan to use for your ethnography (observation, interviews, and/or qualitative surveys, discussed in chapters 6 and 7 and “An Introduction to Step Three” in your text. (1-2 paragraphs)
- Please ensure your paper is in APA format, which requires double spacing and a title page. Include a working title for your project.
Ethnographic Study: Field Research in a Workplace Setting
An ethnography, also referred to as field research, is a qualitative research method in which the researcher can directly observe what goes on at the research site as well as participate, including asking questions. It is a useful method for studying small groups, such as work groups, in their natural setting. Ethnography is the term used by cultural anthropologists for conducting field research. Sociologists tend to use the term field research or participant observation. Ethno means “people” and graphy means “to describe something.” Ethnography is describing people and/or their culture from their perspectives. In other words, ethnography describes the meaning of the situation from the point of view of the participants. How do the participants under study make sense of the world in which they are participating? Ethnographers and field researchers are interested in explicit knowledge, which is a description of what happens, say, at a company holiday party. They are also interested in tacit knowledge, which includes the unspoken or taken-for-granted norms that govern a company holiday party, of which participants are usually unaware. In other words, field research takes place in a natural setting where the researcher attempts to understand the social meanings and different perspectives of the people whom the researcher is studying.
Suggested steps for carrying out an ethnographic project are as follows:
- Prepare yourself by reading the relevant scholarly literature. Discover what other researchers have to say about the topic you are researching.
- Decide what field research role you will play. Will you be a complete observer? That is, will you gain access to the department and watch what goes on? Will you participate as a worker in the department while you observe what is going on? Will you be both an observer and a participant, watching and interviewing department employees?
- Review the research ethics of conducting field research. Information is available in the textbook and you are encouraged to seek out research ethics for this purpose, as well, via Web research.
- Enter the research area and establish relations with the people you will be studying.
- Watch, listen, and collect data.
- Begin to analyze the data, generate a description of what the department is doing, and develop working hypotheses.
- Continue your field research, conducting focused interviews with relevant individuals.
- Disengage and leave the department.
- Complete your analysis and write your report.