A Bar, a Salad Bar, a Playground, a Sporting Event or a Traffic Intersection
This assignment calls for some participant observation research. Select one of the five sites from the title. Go to the site for 30 minutes. No more, no less. In
advance of your fieldwork, carefully read through “the anthropology dozen” and reflect on hidden dimensions of the setting that you might want to uncover. There are
three ways to approach this assignment:
You may choose to be as open minded as possible, just letting your mind and attention drift to whatever you see, hear and touch, describing what you see and hear,
with no pre-ordained “bias.”
On the other hand, you may already have a working hypothesis about what you might expect to discover and proceed to explore these issues more thoroughly.
Some combination of the above two approaches.
Take fieldnotes of the setting/context, and briefly speak to one person in the setting. They could be announced (i.e. I’m doing an anthropology assignment and could I
ask you a few questions?). Alternately you could “interview” in the manner of a matter of fact remark about some object in the mutual setting (ex. at a salad bar a
remark about the food guard, as a “breaking the ice” technique for a brief exchange). Later on, when you are removed from the site, devote increased critical
reflection on the issues, dialogues, and cultural artifacts that you have experienced. Write freely in a red pen, as much as you can remember. Jottings, scribbles,
half-thoughts and free associations are good. You are encouraged to capture you own feelings as well. Then convert your fieldnotes into a five-page essay. Attach a
page of your fieldnotes with your essay.
In your essay, you MUST include:
A brief description of the setting
Briefly describe how people moved through the setting and any action.
Were you surprised by anything in the setting? What?