[NOTE THAT THIS IS THE SECOND IN THE ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH SEQUENCE. IT IS EXPECTED. but not required THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN ITSF5000. If not, you must have taken an equivalent introduction to research methods, particularly qualitative, mixed method, or ethnographic. Do check the expanded note on the prerequisite]
The push towards ethnography in the professional disciplines (education, social work, nursing, etc.) is propelled by the recognition that all research is generated, made possible, constrained and helped by the same historical (cultural and political) conditions which generate, make possible, constrain and help any other social activity. The epistemology of ethnography is developed over the recognition that scientific knowledge is not advanced through attempts at abolishing the conditions of the research, but rather in using these conditions as a lever to gain a more critical understanding than is available through common sense participation. Rigor in ethnography consists in clarifying the position of the ethnographer within the process of which he is a part. Productivity in ethnography consists in producing the most relevant "next" utterance in the long range conversation which is producing our collective understanding of each other.
The above is the general understanding which guides the presentation of the possibilities offered to those who wish to bend themselves to its discipline.
In the first of this series of courses (ITSF5000 Methods of Inquiry: Ethnography and Participant Observation), the emphasis is on the planning of a research project and the writing of a proposal that tightly integrates the general problem to be addressed and the method to be used. In this second course in the series, the emphasis is on the actual process of conducting fieldwork, recording of observations (field notes, mechanical recording and transcription), analysis, and on the writing of the final report.
The emphasis will be on the multiple, albeit principled and motivated, ways of doing each of these things. No recipe for the making of appropriate ethnographies will be offered.