Review Essay: "If Somebody's with Something Every Day They've Gotta Learn Something—Or They're Just Out to Lunch": The Dialectics of Ethnography as a Way of Being


  • Wolff-Michael Roth University of Victoria



ethnography, culture, dialectics, general and particular, production and reproduction


Ethnography: A Way of Seeing addresses itself to students in anthropology and researchers in other professional fields, intending to help them in understanding what is distinctive about ethnography as a discipline rather than merely being another fieldwork technique. Although I contest the claim to the particular audience—experienced researchers will much more appreciate the different points Harry Wolcott makes—I found this a highly enjoyable book, the textual nature of which I attempted to reflexively capture in this review. Drawing on my own fieldwork in a fish hatchery as an interpretive horizon and on the techniques of ethnographic writing, I articulate a dialectical framework that allows readers to situate a number of contradictions that have become salient during my reading. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0303142


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Author Biography

Wolff-Michael Roth, University of Victoria

Wolff-Michael ROTH ( is Lansdowne Professor of applied cognitive science at the University of Victoria. His interdisciplinary research agenda includes studies in science and mathematics education, general education, applied cognitive science, sociology of science, and linguistics (pragmatics). His recent publications At the Elbows of Another: Learning to Teach by Coteaching (with K. TOBIN, Peter Lang, 2002), Science Education as/for Sociopolitical Action (ed. with J. DÉSAUTELS, Peter Lang, 2002), Being and Becoming in the Classroom (Ablex Publishing, 2002), and Toward an Anthropology of Graphing (Kluwer, 2003).




How to Cite

Roth, W.-M. (2003). Review Essay: "If Somebody’s with Something Every Day They’ve Gotta Learn Something—Or They’re Just Out to Lunch": The Dialectics of Ethnography as a Way of Being. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 4(3).

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