Ethnographic Method and Research/Art Inflection | Department of Sociology

Ethnographic Method and Research/Art Inflection

Sociology and social anthropology as a discipline have identified themselves with ethnography as a way of doing the discipline. However, can we say that ethnography is the same conceptualisation as method or can ethnography be construed as a practice and an object that demands inquiry of its own conceptualisation? If we think of the latter, we may have to rethink the fundamental tenets of the discipline and the way it is formulated through the doing of ethnography. Ethnography is not the field and certainly not the same as field work but is essentially a writing up of the filed. In graphically representing the ethnos through primarily writing, ethnography as an object never ceases to make itself and remains in emergence while it represents what it works with. Working with this formulation leads us to ask whether form and content in the production of an ethnography could be seen as a binary in a linear relationship with one another. If this makes the working of an ethnography tenuous inviting introspection, one good way of doing it is to ask if research or the practice and method of producing an object of inquiry is in itself an artistic endeavour and whether we can draw an analogy from artistic processes to think about what constitutes the process of research. Questioning and thought along these lines may enable us to centrally ask how the world manifests itself in the work that we do through the practice of ethnography – the cornerstone of our discipline.