Last Page Ethnography Notes: Don’t get Discouraged

  • Culture is knowledge
  • Culture is knowledge learned & shared
  • Ethosemantics: An approach to ethnography, getting culture through language- exactly what we are doing with these interviews.
  • Culture is knowledge, not behavior. The knowledge of culture is what produces behavior. Obviously this is a pretty important point if I had to state it four times. I thought culture was behavior before that monday’s class period. Its not.
  • Culture is not artifcatcts- so I guess I wouldn’t go outside to Gettysburg and pick up a civil war spoon and go, oh this so culture- because its not. Not exactly, the spoon is influenced by culture, which is what she was getting at. The actual spoon itself is not culture since culture isn’t actually a tangible thing. If knowledge was a tangible thing people would probably be shoving it up their ass to smuggle it out of the country, sellin’ an oz for a couple hundred k….however, then most humanity would be brainless slow-crawling lethargic dumbasses- but hey, really, really, rich. Epiphany we really don’t need knowledge to be tangible to get to that point: Shoutout to the 1%.
  • Culture tells someone everything they need to know in order to behave as: Chinese American, College Student, Daughter, etc..
  • Sometimes, we use culture to break rules since we know what we upset certain kinds of people.

It is very important to remind your informant who you are. Over and over and over again say who you are. And what you are doing. And what you are there for. No matter how repetitious it might seem or how you think you already told know and how you think they already know. Because people are suspicious. Culture is different. Misinterpretations. Misunderstandings. This is why you can get thrown out of a Greek village for being “A Whore.” or maybe you are part of the CIA- they don’t know. Problems that occur with informants is that they don’t trust you at all- and why should they. There is know good reason to. Who is going to talk to you. Your a young american white women- your going to attract some people that you don’t want who will skew information, outcasts example, tend to do this. Other people who volunteer to talk to you- I just don’t know who they are or what their place in society is. Again the informants don’t trust me- there’s a paradigm of real field work vs. what they think I’m doing there- that’s why I keep telling them this is what I’m doing, this is what I’m doing- so overtime they can see that, and trust establishes with, hey, you really are doing what you said you are going to do. People don’t like being criticized. When they feel you are being critical they deny the obvious. This is why word choice is important, just by using the wrong words its easy for me to come across like I’m criticizing the practice or custom of a particular people. Finally, keep reassuring the informant its OK, they don’t have to say anything they are uncomfortable with.

Sidenote: Professor was gave an example of someone out in Seattle doing ethnography on Tramps. Tramps are homeless people who ride the trains, usually drunk, from place to place. He came across this one guy who was able to speak to him in all these technical sociology terms which was helping him with the analysis of his ethnography greatly but here’s the point: This tramp had himself a Sociology Degree. From Harvard.

“Don’t get discouraged,” she said.


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