Saturday, May 30, 2009

Questioning Origins of Research

Readings from Machin due 6/1/09:

Chapter 2 Introduction Responses

1) Machin makes a statement on page 34 which reads, "One of the most important steps in ethnography is learning to think about all behaviour as being accomplished through culturally accepted meanings." From our discussion in class of what ethnography is, I'm not sure if this means outsiders (those who are newly introduced to the culture) determine if specific behaviors can be distinguished as acceptable cultures through means of already perceived norms, or if a culture which is under speculation is supposed to be accepted regardless of the 'registered' accepted meanings?

2) Machin argues "mainstream cinema is hard to distinguish as 'high culture' because it is produced on an industrial scale for a mass audience," (pg. 33). If this be so in Western culture, why do film critics react differently and direct more attention towards independent film makers? Why is this category celebrated as an art form, when 'big-budget' films are only seen as entertainment? By whose and what standards do we categorize cinema as high or low culture when sub-categories fall into different labels?

Chapter 15 Introduction Responses:

1) Machin states on page 165, "Ethnography should be thought being a methodology which is characterized by improvision." Methodology, according to wikipedia, relies on rationale and the philosophical assumptions that underlie a particular study. Does this mean that studying a particular culture in order to charaterize it as accomplished is based on assumed truths? I understand when conducting a study, hypothesis must be made in order to gather information or possible outcomes, but is this method fair to the focused culture? If assumptions, which may be used several times, act as origins to learning about a culture, how are we as students suppose to know the truth for which that society has intended?

1 comment:

  1. Chapter 2 teaches us that we can’t take what people say to use for its face value because everyone has cultural biases. This means that people respond to different questions based on many other factors then how they actually feel. Does this mean everyone is lying? Or, more generally, are people more concerned about their impression then the truth?

    As we discuss whether or not audiences are passive or active, Chapter 2 sure makes it seem that audiences are passive. If respondents in focus groups answer questions about their lifestyles based on the values they have absorbed through the media, how can we ever separate the individual from media?

    Chapter 15 gives us guidelines on how to conduct our ethnographic studies in this class.
    Here are my summarized translations of the main guidelines:
    1. Pick your audience, keep it specific and focused.
    2. Ask your questions with no hypothesis, let your questions and curiosities guide you to the data.
    3. Gain trust with your audience, this facilitates stronger data collection and more honest answers.
    4. Record the data, and take notes simultaneously, then review this data again.
    5. Put your study into a timeline, make it reasonable and attainable.