Fuzzy Fields. Multi-Sited Ethnography in Sociological Research

  • Eva Nadai University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland
  • Christoph Maeder University of Teacher Education Thurgau
Keywords: methodology, sociological ethnography, fieldwork

Abstract

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

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Author Biographies

Eva Nadai, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland
Prof. Dr. Eva NADAI; fields of work: organizational studies, sociology of professions, gender, ethnographic sociology
Christoph Maeder, University of Teacher Education Thurgau
Prof. Dr. Christoph MAEDER; fields of work: sociology of knowledge, education and culture, organizational studies, ethnographic sociology
Published
2005-09-30