Review Essay: Ethnography Lost and Found: Qualitative Methodology Between Science, Art, and Social Powers


  • Jaan Valsiner Clark University



ethnography, ethnomethodology, Chicago school" of sociology, bureaucratization of science, generality of knowledge


The Handbook of Ethnography reviewed here is a thorough treatise of the field as it currently stands—enthusiastically proliferating the uses of qualitative methodology, while remaining disoriented by the role post-modernist thinking has played in the contemporary social sciences. As a result, the uses of qualitative techniques become potential tools for telling journalistic stories, while removing the ideal of science—of creating universal knowledge—from the agenda. It is hoped that the time-honored traditions of ethnography will survive the social pressures of bureaucratization and institutional control over contemporary social sciences. The Handbook also provides an excellent overview of the various research traditions that have emerged from the "Chicago School" of sociological thought. At the same time it fails to represent the ethnographic thought in countries outside of the British-American axis. Nevertheless, the Handbook is a remarkable synthesis of existing thinking in and around of ethnography. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0202297


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Author Biography

Jaan Valsiner, Clark University

Jaan VALSINER ( is interested in the ways in which human psychological systems regulate themselves through constructing and reconstructing sign hierarchies. His work unites anthropological, sociological, and psychological ideas into a framework of cultural development of persons (e.g. The Guided Mind, Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1998). He edits (with Kevin Connolly) the Handbook of Developmental Psychology (London: Sage, forthcoming) and looks for intellectual excitement in contemporary social sciences—even finding it at times. Jaan Valsiner wrote in a former issue of FQS a Review Essay The Games of Gods and Man: Essays in Play and Performance (




How to Cite

Valsiner, J. (2002). Review Essay: Ethnography Lost and Found: Qualitative Methodology Between Science, Art, and Social Powers. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 3(2).

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