Posted: June 1st, 2015

You are required to conduct a series of non-intrusive ethnographic observations in An ‘ethnic’ community or suburb in the Sydney region, and then produce an analysis of these observation

Ethnographic Research ;   (Auburn) suburb in New South Wales (Australia)


Word   length: 2,000 – 2,500 words (not including the bibliography)



You are required to conduct   a series of non-intrusive ethnographic observations    in

An       ‘ethnic’ community      or         suburb in         the       Sydney            region, and      then     produce           an            analysis            of         these    observations.   You     will      be        responsible      for       finding            a            community      and/or  location          for       research.          For       example,          Lakemba         is          a            location that    has       received           a          great    deal     of        media  attention          and      occupies            an        interesting       place    in         Sydney’s          social   geography       and imagination. Please            remember        that      ‘ethnic’            is          not       synonymous    with     ‘non-white’. This         research            project will      culminate         in         a          paper   (between         2,000   and      2,500   words) that            integrates         your     observations    and      experiences,     an        analysis            of         media  and            public  discourse,        demographic   and      historical          details, and      supporting       literature          and            theory. The      ultimate           theme of          your     paper   will      depend            on        your     community,            the       direction          of         your     ethnographic   gaze,    and      the       types    of         participation    and            observations    conducted.      You     might   focus   on        themes such     as         food, the         use       of            space,  media  discourse,        ethnic  identity,           multicultural relations,            immigrant        issues,  and            community      services. You   will      be        required           to         draw    on        the       fundamentals  of            conducting      ethnographic   research           such     as         writing field notes,      creating           maps,            participating    in         activities,         gathering         demographic   and      historical          data.    You     are            by        no        means  expected          to         use       all        of         these    research           methods.         You            are       not       expected          to organise       formal  interviews        with     community      members.         In            Week   13        we       will      share    the       results  of         this      research           in         an        informal            session:            this      presentation     is          not       graded.You     are       not expected to           make            entirely            valid    anthropological           conclusions      based   on        the       limited time     and            research           capacity.          I           am       most    interested        in         your     research           process,            and      tentative          findings.          It’s       up        to         you      to         make    something        of            what    you      observe            and      experience.      I am     looking            for       you      to:

  • Observe closely, and      record  your     observations    (Ie.       Write fieldnotes)
  • Conduct some background     research           on        the       community      and properly    integrate          it            with     your     observations.


  • Address and apply   the       relevant           arguments/theoretical  models that     you      have            encountered    in         this      course.
  • Interpret your observations,   theory, other    material           (such    as         media, historical          records,            or         demographic   data),   and      class     and      related material           so         that      these    form    part            of         a          cohesive          and      well-articulated           analysis.

Some   notes    on        observing:

Observing        is          hard     but       It is      one      of         the       key      components     of         the            ethnographic   method.

Watch what     people  are       doing.  Pay      attention          to         details. Here    are       a          few      questions            that      might   help     you      figure   out       what    to         look     for:

-General          observations:   What   time     did       you      arrive   at         the       location?          Who    was            there?

How    old       are       they?   What   are       the       genders?          What   are       people  wearing           and            what    are       they     doing? How    are       people  communicating            with     each     other?  How    are            they     communicating            with     you?    How    is          the space         used?   How    do        people            move   through            the       location?          How    are       people  in         this      community      similar  to            each     other?  How    are       they     different?        Why?

-Patterns          of         behavior:         What   are       the       patterns           of         behavior?         What   interactions            did       you      observe?          What   did       the       people  do? Why         did       they     do        it? What            were    the       ‘rules’ that       people  followed? Were          these    rules     ever     broken? What  are       the            consequences? For      breaking          the       rules?   Did      you      participate       in         any      of            those    patterns?          What   were    the       dynamics         in         the       relationships    between            those    present (e.g.     customers,       workers,          management).  Be        sure      to         observe            the            affective          dimensions      to         these    dynamics:        emotions          have     a          place    in            anthropology.

-Surrounding   environment:   Observe           the       broader            setting.            How    do        people interact with     things  like      the       weather,          with     animals,           with     trees?   These   are       serious questions.            Consider          the       interrelationships         between           humans            and      non-human      elements            in         the       scene   you      are       observing.

-You    might   focus   your     analysis            on a     specific            practice:           What   might   the       practice            under   observation      mean?  Why    is          it          done?  What   is          its        purpose?          What   is            its        relationship      to         other    cultural            practices? What           does     it          tell       us            about   the       culture (for      example,          what    they     believe is          important)? In other    words,            what    is          the       cultural            significance     of         what    you      observed?

-Your   position           in         the       observation:     Where  were    you? What       were    you      doing? Did      this            influence         what    you      observed?        How    did       people  communicate   with     you?    What   did            it feel   like      to         do        this      project? Did    your ethnicity  have     any      significance     in            shaping            the       interactions      you      were    having?

Important        information:

You     do        not need          to         announce         your     activities,         but       if          you      are       asked   to            explain what    you      are       doing   be        honest  about   the       purpose            of         your     visit     to            this      location.




Ethnographic Research

Over the semester, students will conduct a series of non-intrusive ethnographic observations in an ‘ethnic’ community or suburb in the Sydney region, and then produce an analysis of these observations. You will be responsible for finding a community and/or location for research. For example, Lakemba is a community that has received a great deal of media attention and occupies an interesting place in Sydney’s social geography and imagination. This research project will culminate in a paper (between 2,000 and 2,500 words) that integrates your observations and experiences, an analysis of media and public discourse, demographic and historical details, and supporting literature and theory. The ultimate theme of your paper will depend on your community, the direction of your ethnographic gaze, and the types of participation and observations conducted. You might focus on themes such as food, the use of space, media discourse, ethnic identity, community relations, immigrant issues, and community services.

We will discuss the project throughout the semester. You will be required to draw on many of the fundamentals of conducting ethnographic research (writing field notes, creating maps, participating in activities, gathering demographic and historical data), short of organizing formal interviews with community members

This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:

Evaluate and question the claims about culture, race, and ethnicity made in the media, by governments, and other public sources. Apply anthropological perspectives and knowledge to issues concerning immigration/migration, asylum seeking and related transnational phenomenon and concerns.

Demonstrate the ability to design, and conduct a social research project on an ‘ethnic’ community in Sydney, and communicate research findings in oral and written forms.

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