Birmingham Ethnography Group met for the first time last week, an opportunity for informal conversation amongst those interested in or using such research methods. Ten people (staff, PhD students and their supervisors) came along, from various BCU faculties, and it was good to see people rubbing shoulders for the first time, making exactly the kids of connections I’d hoped for, when ethnographers can otherwise feel a little isolated as the ‘researcher’ within their community of study.
This first meeting didn’t have any specific agenda, but various issued came up, which might be extended on later.
- What is or isn’t ethnography (and the difference between ethnography and ethnographic methods).
- Critical realism (which I need to go and look into).
- The difference between ‘going in’ and being ‘part of’.
- Problems with concepts of the ‘truth’ recorded in ethnography, in comparison to any other method: “a different kind of truth”, a “hijacking of validity”.
- Formalities of the method – should interviews actually be framed as chats?
- The positionality of the researcher, negotiating a role and keeping distance vs. being overly protective about a subject area, wanting to paint it in a good light.
Essentially though, this is something that will continue, via a new Facebook group and Twitter account @bhamethnography, email and further meetings. These will typically take place the last Wednesday of every month at 11am, with locations to rotate around Birmingham locations. However, due to October half term the week after, the next meeting is:
21st October 11am
3rd floor coffee area
The Parkside Building
5 Cardigan Street
Birmingham City University