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Journeys Through Ethnography: Realistic Accounts Of Fieldwork Paperback – 24 Jul 1996

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Textbook or Storybook? 6 Aug 2001
By Amy Forsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This 260 page book is unique, a combination textbook and story-book. Its six main chapters are all written by different authors who seek to share their experiences of fieldwork. "All of the authors write of being beginners in one fashion or another; most were beginning a senior thesis or doctoral dissertation. They show us how individuals learned to be researchers in the process of carrying out their projects" (2). Each chapter seeks to share personal experience that might prove helpful to the next generation of beginning ethnographers. In this sense "Journeys" reads like a story. Each chapter is a self contained tale of the author's adventures. Each tale, however, is written to share wisdom gained, and in this sense, it is a textbook. There is a helpful bibliography, as well as an index and short biographical paragraphs on each of the contributors. Each chapter is also begun with an introduction to the author, his/her work, and information about the published ethnography that the chapter is based on.
Since each chapter is the story of a different project and a different researcher, each chapter has its own unique lesson to share. The two chapters that I found to be the most exciting and helpful were chapters one and three. Chapter one is a reprint of what William F. Whyte wrote as an appendix to his study "Street Corner Society." It tells of his struggles to choose a topic and get started on this ethnography. He also shares the difficulties he had in separating the friendships he developed from the research he was conducting. Through the telling of his experience, Whyte touches on theoretical topics such as ethics, data collection, and data organization. But, the strongest lesson learned from this chapter is how to enter a community as a researcher without being ostracized. Chapter three, "On the Making of Ain't No Makin' It" by Jay Macleod, is strikingly similar to the study done by Whyte. Both studies focused on the city "slums" of their day. Both studies looked at the gang relationships within these societies and the relationship of the smaller slum society to the greater surroundings. Like Whyte, Macleod talks about ethical decisions that he ran into, the difficulties of data collection, uncooperative interviewees, and the struggles to separate friendship from research.
The greatest asset of this book is the diversity of authors. It is a valuable thing in any field to gain an overall perspective on who the professionals are in that particular field. This book is a great introduction for students to become familiar with a few anthropologists and the ethnographies they have done.
"Journeys" is fun to read and helpful for beginning anthropology students. It would be a valuable discussion starter for an introductory class. It is not intended to replace an anthropology textbook, however, and should only be used to supplement. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in case studies with a different twist.
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