Before we went to the field trip, I’ve read the reference material ahead, and started to know what ethnography is. Then, after the real practice in Birmingham, I found this topic really helps me with my final project, and will continue to explore more.
From the reading, Ethnography is a methodology. It is considered as a colonial method that how Western world form the knowledge about the non-Western ones. The pivotal cognitive mode ethnographic methodology is ” observation”, and it comprises two research strategies: non-participant observation and participant observation. The difference from ethnography to an interview or a survey is the gap between attitudes and behavior, between what people say and what they do. ( Gilbert and Mulkay, 1983)
There are three terms that merge with ‘ethnography’: participant observation, fieldwork and case study, and the expression of case study denotes research on a system bounded in space and time and embedded in a particular physical and social-culture context. The main cognitive aim is to abandon the nature attitude that takes social conventions and everyday behavior for granted as normal or obvious. (Gobo, 2008)
Birmingham Ethnography-making the familiar seem strange
Task 1: People watching
The task is to observe people and watch them for a while, to describe what the process felt like.
- Many people are busying in this big city. At first, I didn’t get the feeling of focus, because it’s been a long time since we are busing about our own life and always been rush on time, even when relaxing, we depend on cellphones. After 10mins around I guess, I started to calm down and immersed in the settled condition. Surprisingly, I was thinking it would be embarrass if I put my eye on one passager for a long time, but the truth is, almost no one noticed me. I enjoyed the ‘invisible’ condition thus my brain got to think.
- Two soldiers with paper files in hands, their uniforms are a bit old, but they look tall and straight. They roaming around look s like waiting for some people. Their walking style is different from others obviously, more forward and strong, a sense of fear but also safety arose. I noticed their hats looks like the airman, with a cut feather on. They look outstanding among all. The others seems soft and tender within the same environment around them. What an interesting thing!
- A short guy walking with his one hand on mouth, serious eyes looking worryly. Maybe he has just finished his tired work and going to fix his broken shower, a man clean as him can never bear. But I like his wearying style, the fashion suite with light colour. So impressed on his light blue shirt.
- Some classmates passed by, they look relax with nothing to do, more like a tourist, laughing and chatting happily, taking photos with buildings around. I think they’ve just finished their task.
A new thought come into my mind that if I concentrated on the strangers, I think I can read them a little, from their emotions on their face, their body movement, as their behaviour. I don’t think wether I could guess it right, but my old experience told me that I could get more informations than I was a kid. Something outside always comes from the inner space, and as a human, we mostly conditioned reflect the same. That make us easier to ‘read’ people,the social actors, to apply the non-participate observation way of ethnography research.
Task 2: Crisis of representation
Two poems which respond to Birmingham city center.
“center” and “margin”
- Being around the striking place,
Looking not decent is a guilt.
Shame drive out who doesn’t belong to this noblest palace,
Junoesque, cornucopia, brownstone paradise.
2. Sneaking around the striking place,
Making no worth is a disabled.
Fame hook in who has any kinds of priorities,
Leaving behind the shadow of homeless, dirty, miserable hell.