Jenna Hartel’s lecture on ethnography last week reminded me of my past projects and papers in my undergraduate studies, especially in my third year where I learned about research methodologies. I am not completely certain, but I believe that the professor did talk about ethnographies in one class; however, I am quite sure that we talked about working in the field and doing fieldwork. My fieldwork in my undergraduate years has been situated mainly in children’s homes. However, within the children’s homes, I occupied different areas while doing my research with them. I was sometimes in the kitchen with them, with their parents at times overlooking us, or in the family room. It was essentially their choice and with wherever they felt most comfortable. I find that ensuring their comfort while in the field is important, especially if the subjects are to be greatly involved in the research project. Hartel’s lecture reminded me that it is important to become an insider in the field. I find that this may very well be difficult to do and a major challenge when doing ethnography, especially if I am dealing with subjects that see me as if I could not understand or participate in their culture.
For the research in this class specifically, the field that I would primarily be in is libraries. As long as there are children and librarians to be my subjects, I do not have a preference to being in a specific type of library. However, it may seem reasonable to narrow it down to a couple of types, especially because I do not want my research to be too broad. Therefore, I may look into public and school libraries. Libraries are essentially the ideal fields for this specific research because much of it entails my first-hand observations of interactions between children and librarians, which will then be used for my fieldwork. Another method that was taken into consideration for this research is carrying out interviews, and I am not too sure about the field and fieldwork regarding this, especially if it is not necessary to do these interviews in the library environment. It would be interesting to do interviews in various fields though and take note of how they might affect the subjects and their answers.
This blog post was one of the most difficult ones so far, which surprised me at first because I have been briefly introduced to ethnography and fieldwork, but it is completely different when being in an entirely different discipline and with a distinctive research area to explore in.