Research Writing FavouritesPosted: October 16, 2013
I think my favourite kind of research writing is ethnography. I say “I think” it is because I do also like writing that has hard, concrete facts in it that I can remember and call to mind in games of Trivial Pursuit, for example. But generally speaking, I like to read about people. People just like you and me who live ordinary lives that someone has written about. I often think that I could be in a study and how fascinating people would find it (they wouldn’t, really). Human behaviours and interactions are a never-ending source of interest to me, especially people from different times or different cultures. Though we may be separated by time or geography and social customs and beliefs, deep down, we are very similar, and it is the similarities that I find intriguing.
I sometimes find it hard to think in ways I’m unaccustomed to, and ethnography encourages that challenge for me. Take Jenna Hartel’s lecture from this morning, for example. Ordinarily, I would never equate somebody’s modest home with an information centre. Yet Ms. Hartel did, calling the garage the “deacquisition/storage” space, because that is exactly what it was. I believe the living room area was “bibliography,” but I could be mistaken, and the rest of the names for the different rooms have now escaped me. This is a prime example of how hard it is for me to change my perceptions of things. I can’t recall what the other labels were for the other areas in the home because the idea of likening a home to a library is so foreign to me. But it works! It is a very realistic alternative view, because the gourmet cook who lived in that particular home used the various room dually, both for living and for cooking information storage or usage.
I had not realized how much I enjoy this type of research writing (ethnography) until prompted to consider, and it turns out my own research project relies heavily on people as participants, so at first I thought that my project was also an ethnography, but I don’t think it really is. I will not technically be interviewing my participants and I would not be able to write an ethnography at the end of it. What my research method really is, I’m not sure yet. But that’s for another post.