Boundary Making, Borderlines, Border Crossing

Michaela Pfadenhauer


Cultures represent boundaries of reality for individuals. Collectively, cultures are demarcations enabling the identification of people and things. At the same time cultures provide instructions for adequately handling people and things. These demarcations are maintained by forms of collective action that becomes collective knowledge.  The potential of ethnography for the analysis of culture lays in criss-crossing the common antagonisms in the social sciences. Boundaries are not drawn between qualitative and quantitative methods, nor between naturalism and constructivism. Rather they are drawn between natural and artificial settings, and between methods of participation engaging with the field and the experiment as a method creating social conditions artificially. The potential of ethnography lays within “border crossing” between field participation and scientific observation. Ethnography is about permanently alternating between data collection (field work) and data analysis (at the desk at home) rather than oscillating between proximity and distance in the field.



ethnography; culture; meaning; boundary making; methodological pluralism; phenomenology


Copyright (c) 2017 Michaela Pfadenhauer

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