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MA Political Science - European Politics & Policy Pathway (Research Route) / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Practising Participant Observation

Unit code SOAN60891
Credit rating 5
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Anthropology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Learning outcomes

Students will be introduced to a range of theoretical and practical approaches to research and representation that are grounded in participant observation, including classic fieldwork techniques, visual and sensory methods and new experimental approaches.


Teaching and learning methods

2 x 3 hour sessions

Assessment methods

One 1500 word essay

Deadline for submission of assignment: - Thursday 21 January 2021

Recommended reading

The following reading list is provided as a resource. Some are preliminary texts which focus specifically on ethnographic and/or anthropological research methods, while others are included because they exemplify the way in which a particular anthropologist discusses their methods of research. You are not expected to read them all but some may be referred to in the course. In preparation however, before the first workshop, I would like you take a look at at least one of the ethnographic monographs at the end of the list. Skim read it and identify how the ethnographer went about their research.

Agar, H. 1981. The Professional Stranger: an informal introduction to ethnography. New Jersey: Academic Press

Banks, M. 2001 Visual Methods in Social Research. London: Sage. Press

Behar, R. 1996. The vulnerable observer: anthropology that breaks your heart. Boston: Beacon Press.

Bernard, H.R. 2005 Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative. Alta Mira Press.

Blanes, R.L. 2006 The atheist anthropologist: Believers and non-believers in anthropological fieldwork, in Social Anthropology, 14/2:223-224

Bourdieu, P. 1996. Understanding. In Theory, Culture and Society 13(2): 17-37

Bourgois, P. 1996. Confronting Anthropology, Education, and Inner-City Apartheid. American Anthropologist 98(2):249-258.

Burawoy, M. 1991. Ethnography Unbound: Power and Resistance in the Modern Metropolis. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Comaroff, J. and J. Comaroff 2003. Ethnography on an awkward scale: Postcolonial anthropology and the violence of abstraction, in Ethnography, 4/2: 147-179.

Desmond, M. 2006. Becoming a Firefighter. Ethnography 7: 387-421.

Ellen, R. 1984. Ethnographic Research: a guide to general conduct. London: Academic Press.

Emerson, R.M., Fretz, R.I. & Shaw, L.I. 1995. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Evans, G. 2012.Practising Participant Observation: an anthropologist’s account. Journal of Organizational Ethnography. 1 (1):96-106.

Gardner, K. 1999. Location and relocation: home, “the field” and anthropological ethics. In Watson, C. W. (ed.), Being There: Fieldwork in Anthropology, pp. 49–74. London: Pluto Press.

Geertz, C. 1973. Thick Description in Interpretation of Cultures. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Goffman, E. 1989. On Fieldwork. Journal Contemporary Ethnography 18: 123-132.

Grasseni, C. 2004. Skilled vision: an apprenticeship in breeding aesthetics. In Social Anthropology 12(1): 41-55.

Gupta, A. and J. Ferguson (eds) 1997. Discipline and Practice: ‘the field’ as site, method, and location in anthropology. In Anthropological locations: boundaries and grounds of a field science. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 1-46

Hammersley, M. & Atkinson P. 1995. Ethnography: principles in practice. London: Routledge

Hannerz, U. 2004 [1969]. Appendix: In the Field. In: Soulside: Inquiries into Ghetto Culture and Community. The University of Chicago Press.

Jackson, M. 1983. Knowledge of the body. Man 18(2): 327-345.

Jorgensen, Danny. 1989. Participant observation: a methodology for human studies. London: Sage

Lassiter, L 2005 The Chicago guide to collaborative ethnography Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kalir, B. 2006. The field of work and the work of the field: conceptualising an anthropological research engagement, in Social Anthropology, 14/2: 235-246, ‘Personal habitus’.

Pink, S. 2001 Doing Visual Ethnography: Images, Media and Representation in Research. London: Sage Publications.

Rapport, N. 2004. ‘From the porter’s point of view. Participant Observation by the interpretative anthropologist in the hospital.’ In Frances Rapport (ed.) New Qualitative Methodologies in Health and Social Care Research. London and New York

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 44

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Arran Calvert Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Friday 13 November


Friday 11 December








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