Critical Synthesis


The three articles chosen all agreed that an the ethnographer’s goal is to gain information for the ethnography by means of participant observation, which means the ethnographer must go into the field and become accepted by the cultural group in order to understand how the culture operates.  The Wang article, “Writing Live Fieldnotes: Towards a More Open Ethnography,” hints at this challenge while explaining her difficulties in choosing a medium for recording her notes; “Does a black moleskin look too nice for my fieldsite?… Does my notebook allow me to fit in with teens?”  The article from the Appalachian State University library site is especially clear on what ethnography is.  Each article also agrees that while interpreting the experiences from the field is important, the main focus should be how to translate these findings to the reader.  The Blowers article, from the Bethel College website, asserts that the failure to translate meaningful cultural features from its informants to its audience is a common pitfall in much ethnography written today.  This hearkens back to the Wang article where she talks about live fieldnoting, the practice of using social media to share notes with a wide audience.  She describes the value of live fieldnoting as being translative by nature “I can bring [my readers] into my fieldsite virtually and have them participate by proxy, thus making them feel like I am bringing them with me instead of showing them an end product.”  The articles are written for people who are already writing, or plan to someday write ethnographies so they can have a clear understanding of how to do so.





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