I must admit that the first time I heard about research method “ethnography” was during last week’s lecture by Professor Jenna Hartel. Oddly enough even though it was the first time I encountered the term I felt a greatly connected to it because I am deeply vested in exploring a variety of perspectives and how they operate to make meaning in the social world.
Much like sociologist Robert Park I’ve always believed that in order to really learn about the social world and its organization – you, the researcher must be willing to roll up your sleeves and get messy. Lived experiences paired with astute reflexivity can be one of the most powerful forms of knowledge because it offers a richer and often more diverse perspective of the social world and social issues.
My research study lends itself quite well to this particular research method because I am very interested in studying people in their natural environment/community in order to “capture their social meanings and ordinary activities…” (Hartel 2013). We can learn a great deal about social institutions by the kinds of individuals and groups of individuals who interact with them on a regular basis. In my study I seek an understanding of how individuals who identify with the LGBTQ community perceive their library as a place and space and what the library means to “insiders” of this community/social identity. Though my research may be focused on the “field” of library – I would be conducting the research in and around the library community.
Hartel, J. (2013). Introduction to ethnography.