Watching Closely: A Guide to Ethnographic Observation

Paperback | November 12, 2015

byChristena Nippert-eng

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Ethnographers rely on three related activities to conduct research in the field: observation, conversation, and participation. Observing others in their environments and using this data to inform and share conclusions is an essential part of any fieldworker's toolkit. However, manyethnographers' observational muscles tend to be their weakest. Fortunately, Christena Nippert-Eng's Watching Closely: A Guide to Ethnographic Observation provides a practical, interactive guide for improving one's powers of observation. The book includes nine exercises for practicing observational skills, including a preparatory briefing and post-exercisediscussion. Nippert-Eng also offers a weblink (global.oup.com/us/watchingclosely) to sample responses from her previous students, providing an additional resource beyond the text itself. Beyond the traditional tenets of field work, Watching Closely encourages readers to pursue more creative ways ofcollecting and analyzing data, such as sketching, diagramming, and photography, as well as developing more concrete expectations for the potential uses and meanings of ethnographic data. Engaging and accessible, Watching Closely offers a guide for readers to not only strengthen their core skills and mindset as fieldworkers, but also to produce research that is more scientifically rigorous and persuasive. From social and behavioral scientists to user-centered designers andarchitects, undergraduate students to experienced fieldworkers, a vast array of readers will reap the benefits of learning more about how we observe.

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From the Publisher

Ethnographers rely on three related activities to conduct research in the field: observation, conversation, and participation. Observing others in their environments and using this data to inform and share conclusions is an essential part of any fieldworker's toolkit. However, manyethnographers' observational muscles tend to be their w...

Christena Nippert-Eng is a sociologist and Professor of Informatics at Indiana University Bloomington, and the author of Home and Work: Negotiating Boundaries through Everyday Life and Islands of Privacy: Selective Concealment and Disclosure in Everyday Life.

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see all books by Christena Nippert-eng
Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 8.19 × 5.51 × 0.98 inPublished:November 12, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190235527

ISBN - 13:9780190235529

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Table of Contents

PART ONE: GETTING READYHow to Use This BookA Different Approach to FieldworkPacking ListPART TWO: THE EXERCISESExercise One Open ObservationExercise Two Temporal Mapping IExercise Three Temporal Mapping IIExercise Four Spatio-Temporal Mapping IExercise Five Unstructured ObservationExercise Six Spatio-Temporal Mapping IIExercise Seven PowerExercise Eight Object Mapping IExercise Nine Object Mapping II PlayPART THREE: MOVING FORWARDHow to Use This Book Going Forward

Editorial Reviews

"This is a methods book written for qualitative fieldwork. There are many others. They are typically mechanistic lists of do's and don'ts...This one stands alone. It advocates deep empiricism and provides the tools to get there--in a way that other ethnographic texts and methods courses donot. It is directly 'how to' rather than abstract and remote. Perhaps the most remarkable quality stems from Nippert-Eng's extensive observational studies of non-human species, particularly gorillas at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Watching such animals is her 'laboratory' to become acutely aware ofbehavior in others and she presses students to come up with analogous ways to sharpen their fieldwork skills.... Her book exercises, and accompanying commentary, aim to instill better ways to watch and understand human beings. Bravo. I think there is vast potential here." --Harvey Molotch, Professor of Sociology, New York University