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Unlike artifacts, rituals and customs are not physical objects that can be held in one's hands and described according to their shape and function.Rituals are activities that people perform according to a predetermined pattern.
Enhance your interpretive skills by learning about the culture before visiting, perhaps by reading other researchers' ethnographic accounts of the culture.
Ethnographers vehemently disagree about the degree to which library research must support field study.
In addition, because ethnography is a fairly new methodology, many ethnographers are truly breaking new ground and other scholarly references may simply be unavailable.
While true ethnographers have the luxury of spending large chunks of time in the field and can discover their purpose after lengthy observations, you may find it necessary to focus on a more clearly defined purpose early in your research.
Even though rituals frequently involve the use of artifacts, the ritual itself is an activity.
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Because rituals and customs are behaviors, they are sometimes more difficult to describe and analyze than artifacts.
Tape recorders, cameras, and note pads are some of the most commonly used tools for ethnographic research.
Recording interviews with key informants is more preferable than taking notes; by listening to recordings over and over you will discover important details that you might otherwise miss if you simply take notes.
This section introduces three common modes of conducting field research: Ethnography involves studying a specific culture or community.
By living among the members of a culture and playing the role of participant-observer, ethnographers attempt to define the beliefs, rituals, symbols, problems, and patterns of behavior that distinguish this culture from other dominant cultures.