Series editor(s): Dr. Sam Hillyard
Subject Area: Sociology and Public Policy
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|Title:||Chapter 2 The vitality of ethnographic research on race|
|Author(s):||Gregory Jeffers, Rashawn Ray, Tim Hallett|
|Volume:||11 Editor(s): Sam Hillyard ISBN: 978-1-84950-942-8 eISBN: 978-1-84950-943-5|
|Citation:||Gregory Jeffers, Rashawn Ray, Tim Hallett (2010), Chapter 2 The vitality of ethnographic research on race, in Sam Hillyard (ed.) New Frontiers in Ethnography (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Volume 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.19-45|
|DOI:||10.1108/S1042-3192(2010)0000011005 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
|Article type:||Chapter Item|
Martyn Hammersley's (1992) What's wrong with ethnography? is a methodological polemic addressed to ethnographers that problematizes their assumptions and their overall approach to social research. Hammersley levels three main charges against ethnography: (1) there are problems with its depictions of reality, its relationship with theory, the generalizability of its findings, and the validity and social relevance of its findings; (2) other methods, namely historical and quantitative analysis, are not fundamentally distinct from ethnography in orientation or assumption; and (3) as such the best way to move social research in productive directions would be to eliminate categorical distinctions between methods in favor of a “more appropriate methodological framework for the social sciences” (1992, p. 203). The last charge is the most radical, as Hammersley argues for the disappearance of ethnography as a distinctive method in favor of a more holistic approach that would free researchers from methodological allegiances that are often based on false premises. Our goal in this chapter is to bring Hammersley's rather abstract discussion to the ground level by examining it in light of actual ethnographic research. Hammersley's text has been criticized for its dearth of empirical examples (Brydon, 1992, p. 228), and lacking actual cases it is difficult to assess whether the problems he identifies are real, or how they might be overcome. This is certainly ironic, because if ethnography is anything, it is empirical.
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