Get access

HOW NOT TO LIE WITH ETHNOGRAPHY

Authors


  • I would like to thank Paul Willis, Yu Xie, Rafe Stolzenberg, and Tim Liao for their encouragement and helpful comments. Direct correspondence to Mitchell Duneier, Wallace Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544. E-mail: mduneier@princeton.edu.

Abstract

This paper describes a simple strategy for doing more reliable ethnography: after fieldwork has commenced, investigators can use thought experiments to recognize inconvenient phenomena. Two examples are discussed: “the ethnographic trial” and the “inconvenience sample.” The paper uses Clifford Geertz's classic “Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” as a case of how work could be made more reliable with such strategies. It highlights the value of systematically identifying aspects of the situation under study that have been excluded from the analysis.

Ancillary