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Field Methods

Field Methods

This course will provide an overview of key epistemological issues, challenges, and strategies entailed in conducting fieldwork research. Fieldwork methods are employed in many disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, education, and science and technology studies. Readings and discussions will draw on insights from scholars in several of these, but will focus on the study of communication-centered phenomena, broadly defined. In order to learn by doing, students will conduct participant observation research in a field of their choice each week during the quarter, and, by the end of the quarter, will produce an ethnographic account of socio-communicative behavior, sense-making, and/or meaning construction and sharing within that field, whether mediated or face-to-face. This account will be based on the close study of communication in a particular culture or community of practice, through extensive time at the site– observing, talking with culture/community members, taking notes, interviewing, and perhaps co-participating in activities alongside members of the culture. The class will meet once a week in order to allow students greater flexibility in conducting their fieldwork.

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