Monday, October 25, 2010

Doing Ethnography

The recommended reading "Doing Ethnography" was written by William Shaffir, a former professor and mentor of mine during my undergraduate years. This article obviously appealed to me initially because I know Dr. Shaffir personally. It also appealed to me, however, because I am definitely attracted to the research method of ethnography. I don't think this method will be appropriate for my thesis, but I envision combining my sociology background with my interest in libraries down the road. In my previous research, additionally, there were times when I employed participant observation methods in which I noticed some of the things pointed out by Shaffir. I visited a mosque as part of my research on Afghan-Canadians, and, like Shaffir changed his appearance when studying Hasdic Jews, I dressed in a way that brought me closer to the community. I understand what Shaffir meant by the ethical implications of ethnographic research. No matter how open one is about conducting research, there will always be an element of deception. When I visited an Afghan mosque for my research I was obviously open about the fact that I was gathering data. However, the subjects I interviewed assumed that what I was wearing and the questions I was asking signified a strong interest in converting to Islam.

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