Title

Deepening the investigation with limited time: Rapid Ethnographic Methods

Location

Hiawatha 1

Start Time

16-10-2014 1:30 PM

End Time

16-10-2014 4:30 PM

Abstract

Keywords: rapid ethnography, quick ethnography

Traditional ethnographic methods are carried out with extended time spent as a participant observer embedded in the fieldwork context. In situations where time in the field may be limited, or a more rapid assessment may be warranted due to situational factors, the concepts of quick ethnography (Handwerker, 2001) or rapid ethnography (Millen, 2000), alternately known in various disciplines as blitz ethnography, Rapid Ethnographic Assessment (REA),Rapid Ethnographic Assessment Procedures (REAP), or Rapid Assessment Procedures (RAP: Harris, et al, 1997) , offer other means of immersion in the research context. These methods are distinct in their varied use by different disciplines yet also similar in terms of the core processes employed in each. For ease of description, the umbrella term rapid ethnography (RE) will be used to collectively describe this body of approaches. RE is optimally carried out by a team of ethnographers who seek a broad understanding in a relatively short period of time but who have a fairly targeted focus in comparison with the scope of more traditional ethnographic approaches. This should not be confused with a narrow focus, however; RE demands consideration of multiple contextual layers and the actors inhabiting them simultaneously. Key informants, ubiquitous in the realm of ethnographic methods, occupy a more prominent role as community liaisons or liminal ethnographic team members in this more rapid process. Existing data as well as expert consultants have heightened importance in RE; rather than seeking a completely new interpretation of the subject, rapid ethnography often prioritizes multi-level scanning for existing definitions of phenomena and the augmentation of previous research. For occupational scientists, RE presents several opportunities. First, although cultural anthropologists have at times criticized rapid ethnography for lacking depth, Baines & Cunningham (2011) point out the capacity of RE to provide sufficiently complex descriptions of a social situation while operating within the current context of research funding constraints. Second, the emphasis in RE on attending to dialogue between actors and multiple levels of context support Laliberte Rudman’s (2013) charge to examine how occupation possibilities align with and are negotiated within broader socio-political situations. This session describes rapid ethnographic approaches, outlines their characteristics potentially useful in the realm of occupational science research, and provides a specific example of rapid ethnography employed in a research project carried out in the content of a collaborative anthropology-occupational therapy field school with a team of faculty and student researchers.

References

Baines, D., & Cunningham, I. (2013). Using comparative perspective rapid ethnography in international case studies: Strengths and challenges. Qualitative Social Work, 12(1), 73-88. doi:10.1177/1473325011419053

Handwerker, W. (2001). Quick ethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Harris, K.J., Jerome, N.W. & Fawcett, S.B. (1997). Rapid Assessment Procedures: A Review and Critique. Human Organization 56 (3): 375-378. http://www.metapress.com/content/W525025611458003

Laliberte Rudman, D. (2013). Enacting the Critical Potential of Occupational Science: Problematizing the ‘Individualizing of Occupation’. Journal Of Occupational Science, 20(4), 298-313. doi:10.1080/14427591.2013.803434

Millen, D.R. (2000). Rapid ethnography: time deepening strategies for HCI field research. In Proceedings of the 3rd conference on Designing Interactive Systems: processes, practices, methods and techniques (DIS ’00): Boyarski, D. & Kellogg, W.A. (Eds.). ACM: New York. DOI = 10.1145/347642.347763.

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Oct 16th, 1:30 PM Oct 16th, 4:30 PM

Deepening the investigation with limited time: Rapid Ethnographic Methods

Hiawatha 1

Keywords: rapid ethnography, quick ethnography

Traditional ethnographic methods are carried out with extended time spent as a participant observer embedded in the fieldwork context. In situations where time in the field may be limited, or a more rapid assessment may be warranted due to situational factors, the concepts of quick ethnography (Handwerker, 2001) or rapid ethnography (Millen, 2000), alternately known in various disciplines as blitz ethnography, Rapid Ethnographic Assessment (REA),Rapid Ethnographic Assessment Procedures (REAP), or Rapid Assessment Procedures (RAP: Harris, et al, 1997) , offer other means of immersion in the research context. These methods are distinct in their varied use by different disciplines yet also similar in terms of the core processes employed in each. For ease of description, the umbrella term rapid ethnography (RE) will be used to collectively describe this body of approaches. RE is optimally carried out by a team of ethnographers who seek a broad understanding in a relatively short period of time but who have a fairly targeted focus in comparison with the scope of more traditional ethnographic approaches. This should not be confused with a narrow focus, however; RE demands consideration of multiple contextual layers and the actors inhabiting them simultaneously. Key informants, ubiquitous in the realm of ethnographic methods, occupy a more prominent role as community liaisons or liminal ethnographic team members in this more rapid process. Existing data as well as expert consultants have heightened importance in RE; rather than seeking a completely new interpretation of the subject, rapid ethnography often prioritizes multi-level scanning for existing definitions of phenomena and the augmentation of previous research. For occupational scientists, RE presents several opportunities. First, although cultural anthropologists have at times criticized rapid ethnography for lacking depth, Baines & Cunningham (2011) point out the capacity of RE to provide sufficiently complex descriptions of a social situation while operating within the current context of research funding constraints. Second, the emphasis in RE on attending to dialogue between actors and multiple levels of context support Laliberte Rudman’s (2013) charge to examine how occupation possibilities align with and are negotiated within broader socio-political situations. This session describes rapid ethnographic approaches, outlines their characteristics potentially useful in the realm of occupational science research, and provides a specific example of rapid ethnography employed in a research project carried out in the content of a collaborative anthropology-occupational therapy field school with a team of faculty and student researchers.