Sociology: liberal way to interpret ethnography

Sociology: liberal way to interpret ethnography

There are different characteristics that distinguish organizational ethnography from the general studies, and to be able to understand these distinctive characteristic more, there is need to use theoretical and methodological approach. * in the study of organizational ethnography by checking the relationship between theory and data-guided poles, also some important sociological approaches. (Bergman, 2002). Ethnography as defined by Hammerless and Atkinson (1 995, p. ) is one that is most popular in the field: we shall interpret the term ‘ethnography’ in a liberal way, not roaring much about what does or does not count as examples of it. We see the term as referring primarily to a particular method or sets of methods. In its most characteristic form it involves the ethnographer participating, overtly or covertly, in people’s lives for an extended period of time, watching what happens, listening to what is said, asking questions-?in fact, collecting whatever data are available to throw light on the issues that are the focus of the research”.

Using a ‘liberal’ way to interpret ethnography makes it broad- based in the logic that they refrain from outlining ethnography with ethological approaches and procedures of many qualitative studies, it leaves one to argue that not only is ethnography diverse from other methods, but more prominently, the honesty of social science project might be vulnerable because of the research questions, data collection and analytical method.

The raw data are highly reliant on each other (Bergman, 2002). Elf the empirical and theoretical data collection and analysis methods are unclear then it will be difficult to judge whether the research question can be answered from the data. The term organization can refer to the everyday raciest and procedures of action going on within such a social structure. Organization can sometimes be thought of as a system (Parsons and Lackawanna, 1966).

To throw more light on this “system is a structure of intercommunicating modules that, as a group, act or operate individually and jointly to achieve a common goal through the rigorous activity of the individual part” (Thomas, 1993). With this definition, ethnography is focused on system and by extension, organization. There is no need to qualify ethnography. In other words, groups, families, communities, associations, clubs, etc. Re System or organizations in a general sense, and are being studied by ethnographers, the study is inevitably the study of some form of organization or system. (Hammerless and Atkinson, 1995).

With this said, the purpose of organizational ethnography is, “to uncover and explicate the ways in which people in particular work settings come to understand, account for, take action, and otherwise manage their day-to-day Van Mean, 1979). This assertion provides, in contrast to abstract theories of organization more grounded, practice-based understanding of organizational life” (Webby t al, 2009), a more rounded kind of knowledge that “relates to the perspective of social actors and to the social world in its dynamics and complexity which helps in creative problem-solving” (Skaters, 2007).

Nevertheless, there is significant difference in the degree to which different ethnographers are data guided. And many sociological ethnographers do not use what in organizational studies is viewed as “organizational theory’. Organizational ethnography has made a substantial input over the years towards obtaining an understanding of organizations and organizing.

It is a ere problematic subject area, (Skaters, 2007 and Annealed, 2008) have put the field on the organizational methods into radar screen, and underlining ethnographer sops estimated tools for portraying daily meaning- making in organizations they also explain something of the ‘how to’ Of ethnographic study, ethnography, and organizations and treatment of the whole study process fully illustrated by countless organizational ethnographers (Annealed, 2008). The perceivable branches of organizational ethnography research cannot but be mentioned (Berger and Lackawanna 1 966; Coffman 1983).

Although such a list is always somewhat subjective and necessarily cannot contain everything that counts. Another and generally used method in organizational ethnography is to emphasis on selected significant aspects of life within an organization and to weaken purposely the project of trying to connect observation with particular threads of organizational theories but the formal and the functional side of the organization are preserved like a context, background in order to observe the social production Of essential societal aspects of life within a particular type of organization (Webby et l,2009).

Ethnography involves using several methods of data collecting, like observation ,interviews, collection of documents, pictures, audio-visual materials as well as representations of artifacts. The main difference from other ways of investigating the social world is that the researcher does “fieldwork” and collects data him or herself through physical presence. In contrast to survey research, ethnographic research cannot be done merely from a desk (Hammerless and Atkinson, 1995).

The time frame of social processes, the furniture, the spatial arrangements, the architecture, the way people work and interact, the contents of their communication and so on must be taken into account by the ethnographer. Organizational ethnography, like cultural studies, has contributed to the major expansion of the meaning Of “ethnography” since the asses. In organizational studies, quantitative methods became central in the asses and 1 sass, as in the social sciences in overall, and have continued widespread up to the modern day.

Qualitative methods resurfaced against this framework, and “organizational ethnography” became, for many, a common denominator of non-quantitative organizational studies by means of any type of qualitative method, be it in- depth or narrative interviews, qualitative content analysis of documents, pictures and audio-visual data, or non-quantitative case studies. Organizational Ethnography go about activities. Such research does not rely solely on what people say about their lives in an interview or on what is reported in documents – rather such data are treated with caution.

Of course, ethnographers also talk to people, read documents and consider all kinds of artifacts, but they do so only in the context of an observational study Madison, 2005). The methodological renewal has been led by some key theorists, notable among them is John Van Mean (1997, 1988, and 1995) who in empirical as well as methodological work, has both demonstrated and theorized the place of ethnography in studies of the organizational ethnography. Similarly, David Silverman methodological writing (2007) have done much to make qualitative research, including ethnography, more acceptable with the organizational studies discipline.

With this said, Organizational ethnography can also be seen as the ethnographic study, its distribution of organizations ND their organizing process. Organizational ethnography can be distinguished from other forms of ethnography by looking at the setting, or field, which can be used as a focus of analysis to defining ethnography. To make it clear and more important, we might point to what to us appears an increasing striking feature of the ways in which ethnography is being done in the field of organizations.

This can take place at any level of the organizational hierarchy- studying up or studying down, or across departmental and organizational boundaries; it can be done within a clearly defined organizational space or in more fragmented, diffuse, and even ‘virtual’ organizations (Atkinson 1995). The one thing that is distinctive about ‘ethnography’ in organizational settings that set organizational ethnography apart from other approaches or methods of research is that the study of organization designate what it can contribute to their understanding. Webby et ethnography has been characterized in an organizational setting as the combined field research ‘tools’ of observing (with whatever degree of participation), conversing (Including formal interviewing), and the close reading of documenting resources. These methods rest upon action (talking, laughing, working, and doing) and positive perception (observing, listening, reading, and smelling). This distinctive set of methods for accessing or generating data distinguishes ethnography from other approaches to the study Of organizations. Madison 2005) Organizational ethnography has the potential to make clear the often overlooked, explicitly known and/or hidden dimensions of meaning- making, including its emotional and political aspects. It also combines an orientation towards subjective experience and individual agency in every-day life with insensitivity to the broader social setting and historical and institutional dynamics in which these emerge or are embedded (Bate, 1997). There are different ontological and epistemological presumptions that can inform ethnographic research.

This can range from a realist (or naturalist) perspective that positions the ethnographer as an objective observer and knower of naturally occurring social phenomena, to a more interpretative perspective that sees social realities as being socially constructed, with the ethnographer as fully part of these constructivist processes (Bernstein 1 976, 783). The usual way is to find a person who is a member of the organization and can provide access to it. Such persons are called “informants” from the ethnographic point of view and “members” from the organizational perspective.

Whenever such a member becomes an informant for the ethnographer, he or she takes a certain degree of risk. Even if you restrict yourself to work with only field notes and the documents in use in the researched organization, and you abandon the use of more complex data like sound or video recordings, the amount of information collected can easily overwhelm the researcher. The risk of producing heaps of useless data but missing the essential material is very real in organizational ethnography if, for instance, you are going to try to describe and deconstruct the culture of an organization.

Of course, sound and video data allow more fine-grained analysis and do have the advantage of the question of scope, (Bergman 2003). As already mentioned, organizations do have boundaries and usually control access. The risk arises because informants are unlikely to be familiar with what the research person does and informants typically do not want to sis their position in the organization as a consequence of providing information to the ethnographer.

A great number of organizational studies are theory guided as pointed out, using highly abstract concepts of postmodern and illuminating discussion of definitive developments in organizational theories. Another and widely used approach in organizational ethnography is to focus on selected important aspects if the job is to be done well. But besides these necessary scientific choices, every ethnographer is also confronted with many everyday tasks before, during and after organizational ethnography.

Some of the information and arguments given here apply to sociological ethnography in general (Madison,2005), to be as specific as possible with reference to ethnography in organizations and outline some research questions following the tasks for instance: (1) Gaining access to the organization and finding an appropriate social role. (2) Setting up a useful data collection process and defining an analytical framework for the data analysis. (3) Establishing a working relation with at least some members of the organization. (4) Finding a style of writing for the ethnographic text. ) Reporting findings and analyses back to the field while staying ethically alert and honest towards the people and their organization. These tasks should not be seen in linear order, but rather as constant elements of the exercise of “muddling through” during the process of research in organizational ethnography. It is for this reason that ethnographers sometimes ironically refer to their work as doing “dirty fieldwork”. Organizations usually regulate membership and access carefully. This can make them difficult sites for ethnographic research and sometimes even renders it impossible.

This means the ethnographer tries to become a full member of the organization with a full job and duties against which he or she will be scrutinized. In such cases the ethnographers undertake all entry routines into an organization as with the other members and they attain full membership status. Additionally, organizations do have boundaries and usually control access. This is particularly the case when ethnographers reconstruct informal habits, tacit knowledge, routine methods of working around official rules or any other aspect of an organization which belongs backstage and is regularly hidden from the public.

Although such knowledge can be very important for the understanding of the everyday functioning of an organization, it is delineate to report. Furthermore, an ethnographer and the informant will sometimes develop close ties due to time spent together. So keeping good relations becomes elusive and often ambivalent task in organizational ethnography. As a consequence we strongly recommend that the ethnographer of an organizations consider informants not solely as data sources, but as special sorts of ephemeral professional friends that deserve friendly treatment in many respects (van mean, 1995).

For example, think f someone doing ethnographic research on you most of your daily routines would be described; a lot of your backstage behavior would be documented, etc. And these descriptions would be compiled into a text, which you could only partially understand due to its reliance on a theoretical background not known to you. In conclusion, Organizational ethnography will surely always remain empirically local, stay entrenched in certain contexts in time and space, be limited in scope, and hardly ever be useful for quick fixes due to its methodological foundation (and slowness) in discovering the social aspects of organizations.

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