Fuzzy Fields. Multi-Sited Ethnography in Sociological Research

Eva Nadai, Christoph Maeder


Doing participating observation in the "field" is an indispensable characteristic of ethno­graphy. Yet, the problems of constructing a field for ethnographic research attract surprisingly little attention in textbooks and research reports. Socio­logical ethnography does hardly ever aim at giving holistic representations of clearly bounded (small) groups. It rather focuses on certain theoretically defined aspects of a given culture. Therefore, defining and delineating a field becomes a crucial step in an empirical study. In our article we pro­pose a concept of the field as social world(s) constituted by a set of actors focused on a com­mon concern. With the example of our ongoing research project on exclusion and integration in welfare and economy we argue for a multi-sited approach, which traces its inherently fragmented and multiply situated research object across social worlds. We discuss the problems arising from such a strategy and discuss the function of the field in theory driven sociological ethnography. We contend that multi-sited ethnography is particularly suited for building empirically grounded socio­logical theories.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0503288


methodology; sociological ethnography; fieldwork

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-6.3.22

Copyright (c) 2005 Eva Nadai, Christoph Maeder

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.