Assignment : Naturalistic Observations and Evaluation
Conducting an ethnographic study is a fun way of gathering research about your social environment. You may have done an ethnography before without really being aware of it. In a small way, this assignment recreates what ethnographers do when they visit a new community to conduct research.
Complete the following:
- Choose a restaurant, library, mall, dining hall, coffee shop, or similar public location. Plan to spend a minimum of two hours at the location. You will visit this location twice, for a minimum of four hours total. Keep in mind that if you should find one of your peers in the establishment at the same time when you are there, do not interrupt him/her and do not do the assignment at the same time.
- Document what occurs at this chosen location:
- Describe the establishment.
- Analyze the interactions between people.
Next, write a paper documenting and analyzing your observations of the location.
Your observation notes should specifically include the following:
- Name and location of the establishment
- Dates and times you were there
- Place where you stood/sat and when you did your research
- Description of the physical characteristics of the inside and outside of the establishment (e.g. brick or concrete structure, paint color, seating arrangements)
- Number and types of people visiting the establishment while you were there (age, sex, type of clothing, probable occupations, ethnicity, etc.)
- Document interactions such as:
- specific nature of the interactions that take place in the establishment among customers, between customers and staff, and among staff
- types of languages used in the establishment and by whom
- any strange or unusual behavior
Include the following in your analysis:
- Comparison of similarities and differences of this establishment and other similar establishments you know about
- Nature of the treatment of customers in the establishment
- Relationships between customers and workers
- Any behavior that surprised you or was contrary to your expectations
- How it felt to do the research
- Most difficult aspects of the research
- What you found most interesting about the research
In your analysis, be sure to draw upon your observations to support your conclusions.
In the appendix of your paper, include the following:
- A sketch of the layout of the establishment (You can draw in a computer program, like Paint that comes preloaded on most PCs and insert it into your Word file.)
- Transcription of your notes