Collaboration is becoming increasingly import especially in an ethnographic context. I believe collaborative methods are some of the most important and necessary tools for the modern ethnographer. By working with and including community members in research, an ethnographer can facilitate actual change. Collaborative ethnography will hopefully become a primary research tool in the very near future.
One of, if not the, most prominent advocate of modern collaborative ethnographic practices, is Luke Lassiter of Marshall University Graduate College. In The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, Lassiter defines ‘collaborative ethnography’ as an approach that “deliberately and explicitly emphasises collaboration at every point in the ethnographic process, without veiling it- from project conceptualisation, to fieldwork, and, especially, through the writing process” (2005). Collaborative ethnography should be accessible to a greater audience and specifically to those who participated in the research, who should have access to read, edit and fully understand the final product. Lassiter lays out numerous strategies to accomplish this, such as using principle participants as readers and editors or conducting focus groups for feedback. Refraining from using jargon and other forms of academic language is also a way to make sure the content is readable.
This idea of user readability is evident in this weeks BCM240 Task where students had to interview an elder about technology in the past and reflect on their conversation through the wordpress platform. This research allowed a wide audience to view and compare interview results. When investigating the blogs of other students, it is prevalent that there were some major similarities in experience but also surprising differences.
Sam’s interview with Ms. Justine Jones revealed that “the kids weren’t allowed to watch it leisurely without the presence of the Mum and Dad.” This is an interesting comment as when comparing it with the interview with my mother, she viewed television programs with her sister once her parents had gone to bed… whether or not this was known by her parents, I’m not too sure. An obvious difference in television etiquette is exemplified by the two aforementioned households.
Furthermore, Sonny’s interview with Ms. Cara Jones reflected on the type of family environment she lived in, describing it as “informal and quite laid back.” The interview elaborates on how Cara’s mother made exceptions to programs like ‘Number 96’ and was remembered to be less strict and open minded in those cases. Similarly, answers from my interview disclosed that my mother’s family were more carefree as well and allowed her to watch the more risque television programs. These parallels in family environments reveal the likeness between television interests and freedom in choice.
However, this task was not purposefully collaborative. All students individually underwent their own research and formed individual research questions. Yes, reviewing and reflecting on students interviews created an essence of collaborative ethnography, though it wasn’t an unrelenting process of collaboration. For collaborative ethnography to be an efficient tool in modern day research, participation is key.
Lassiter, L. 2005. The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography. ‘Defining Collaborative Ethnography.’ Available from: http://press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468909.html