Assignments

WEEK # TOPICS
1-3 To be handed in weekly, a summary of one reading assigned for that week, following formats illustrated in "Handy Tips for Taking Reading Notes" under study materials.
4

Annotated Bibliography and Proposal. Proposal for research following the format in Silbey, Designing Qualitative Research, Week 5 of the reading list. The bibliography should include at least five relevant titles for your fieldwork site and one sentence that could be used to describe the work cited and which might be used in a literature review on the topic of the work. Include at least one research question generated by this work.

For the proposal, make sure to specify the central question(s) of the research? What kind of data would you collect? What are the central concepts and nominal definitions? Will the research be exploratory, descriptive, explanatory? What are the sources of data, units of analysis, and temporal dimensions of the research. Follow the format in Silbey, Designing Qualitative Research (in Week 5 of the reading list) to describe the fieldwork sites, tasks, and questions.

5

Observe, at a distance, one to two hours in your chosen site. Watch and listen. Do not intrude. Write what you have seen and heard during those two hours, setting the scene in its material form, human participants, and interactions. From this non-intrusive observation, try to interpret what is happening. Be careful to distinguish carefully what you saw and heard from what you think might be happening. Begin the notes with a physical description of the place, the ambience and feel of it; then describe the principal actors, and what you can infer from their appearances, then their observable behaviors and words and what you can infer from these. What more do you want and need to know to understand what is happening?  Remember that understanding demands analysis at several levels: the immediate transaction and the larger social context(s).  Do not worry if you fail to cover everything you see; for present purposes, a segment of the action will serve as the whole scene. What is happening in this place at this time - give it a title.

6 Prepare a set of questions you wish to address to the people you are observing. Bring these to class for discussion. Distinguish in two separate documents questions that will provide factual information, yes/no answers, from those that will engage your respondent in a conversation and storytelling.
7-10 Submit field notes and transcribed interviews for class discussion.
11 First draft of paper, 8-10 pages.
13 Final paper, 10-15 pages.