Language and communication produce (and are produced by) the culture of everyday life, rooted in a particular space and time. To understand the cultural dimensions of language and communication, this course provides students with in-depth knowledge of ethnographic methods and reflexivity. Ethnography allows us to investigate how speakers and social actors themselves produce culture through communicating and how they themselves produce knowledge about this process. Ethnography also pushes us to reflect on our own academic writing voice and complexify the ways in which we represent those who we research, which requires a heightened sensitivity to research ethics. This capstone experience, first, theorises ethnographic methods, with a particular focus on reflexivity and ethics, and, secondly, applies these methods to students’ independent research projects. Students are expected to conduct their own small-scale ethnographic fieldwork and write extensive field notes and reflexive vignettes and present them in class.
This course aims to:
- train students to identify and critique relevant issues relating to cultural dimensions in the study of language and communication;
- give students methodological skills for conducting independent research on issues that are relevant and significant in language and communication and present findings in adequate, reflexive ways;
- provide students with opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world linguistic and communicative data, in particular in their everyday contexts of Hong Kong and Asia.
- Classes are held as interactive sessions. We will engage with readings assigned from a variety of books and journal articles and relate them to our own and our research participants’ lived-experiences as cultural producers in Hong Kong.
- At various points of the semester, certain classes may be given over to fieldwork sessions where students engage in ethnographic study of language and communication in local communities; these sessions complement the interactive sessions, providing experiential learning, with students utilising the theoretical knowledge and methodological skills acquired in class to conduct research.
- Students who miss more than 3 classes, for whatever reason, will be considered as not having completed the course and will not receive a final grade.
All components of the assessment contribute towards the final grade for the course. A failure to complete any of the assessments will result in a 0 for that particular proportion of the grade.
- Critical commentary on ethnographic theory/method (20%, due before reading week)
- Ethnographic field note and vignette (20%, due after reading week)
- In-class presentation (20%, in the second half of the semester)
- Final paper (40%, due in the assessment period)
Students are encouraged to read widely and independently, using the following indicative list as a point of departure. Weekly readings will be selected in consultation with students.
Agar, Michael (1980) The Professional Stranger: An Informal Introduction to Ethnography. New York: Academic Press.
Agha, Asif (2003) The social life of cultural value. Language and Communication 23(3/4): 231-273.
Appadurai, Arjun (2006) The right to research. Globalisation, Societies and Education 4(2): 167-177.
Atkinson, Paul and David Silverman (1997) Kundera’s immortality: The interview society and the invention of the self. Qualitative Inquiry 3(3): 304-325.
Blommaert, Jan and Dong Jie (2010) Ethnographic Fieldwork: A Beginner’s Guide. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Brettell, Caroline, B. (ed.) (1993) When They Read What We Write: The Politics of Ethnography. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.
Briggs, Charles (1986) Learning How to Ask: A Sociolinguistic Appraisal of the Role of the Interview in Social Science Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Clifford, James and George E. Marcus (1986) Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Berkley: University of California Press.
Copland, Fiona and Angela Creese (2015a) Linguistic Ethnography: Collecting, Analysing and Presenting Data. London: Sage.
Copland, Fiona, Sara Shaw and Julia Snell (eds.) (2015) Linguistic Ethnography: Interdisciplinary Explorations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
De Fina, Anna and Sabina Perrino (2011) Interviews vs. ‘natural’ contexts: A false dilemma. Discourse in Society 40(1): 1-11.
Duranti, Alessandro (1997) Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Geertz, Clifford (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books.
Geertz, Clifford (1988) Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Erickson, Frederick (1986) Qualitative methods in research on teaching. In: Merlin C. Wittrock (ed.) Handbook of Research on Teaching. 3rd edn. New York: Macmillan, pp. 119-161.
Hammersley, Martyn and Paul A. Atkinson (2007) Ethnography: Principles in Practice. 3rd edn. Oxon: Routledge.
Hymes, Dell (1981) Ethnographic monitoring of children’s acquisition of reading/language art skills in and out of the classroom. Volumes I, II, and III. Final report. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.
Hymes, Dell (1996) Ethnography, Linguistics, Narrative Inequality: Toward an Understanding of Voice. London: Taylor & Francis.
Irvine, Judith and Susan Gal (2000) Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In: Paul V. Kroskrity (ed.) Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identities. Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press. 35-84.
Jackson, John L. Jr. (2010) On ethnographic sincerity. Current Anthropology 51(2): 279-287.
James, Alison, Jenny Hockey and Andrew Dawson (eds.) (1997) After Writing Culture: Epistemology and Praxis in Contemporary Anthropology.London: Routledge.
Levon, Erez (2013) Ethnographic fieldwork. In: Christine Mallinson, Becky Childs and Gerard van Herk (eds.) Data Collection in Sociolinguistics: Methods and Applications, pp. 69-79. London: Routledge.
Nakassis, Constantine V. (2016) Linguistic anthropology in 2015: Not the study of language. American Anthropologist 118(2): 330-345.
Rampton, Ben, Janet Maybin and Celia Roberts (2015) Theory and method in linguistic ethnography. In: Fiona Copland, Sara Shaw and Julia Snell (eds.) Linguistic Ethnography: Interdisciplinary Explorations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 14-50.
Rampton, Ben, Karin Tusting, Janet Maybin, Richard Barwell, Angela Creese and Vally Lytra (2004) UK Linguistic Ethnography: A discussion paper. Available (12 March 2016) online: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fss/organisations/lingethn/documents/discussion_paper_jan_05.pdf
Rapley, Timothy J. (2001) The art(fulness) of open-ended interviewing: Some considerations on analysing interviews. Qualitative Research 1(3): 303-323.
Sanjek, Roger (ed.) (1990) Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Sarangi, Srikant (2011) Role hybridity in professional practice. In: Srikant Sarangi, Vanda Polese and Giuditta Caliendo (eds.) Genre(s) on the Move: Hybridisation and Discourse in Specialized Communication. Napoli: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiano, pp. 271-296.
Saville-Troike, Muriel (2003) The Ethnography of Communication: An Introduction. 3rd edn. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Schilling, Natalie (2013) Sociolinguistic Fieldwork. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Silverstein, Michael (1976) Shifters, linguistic categories, and cultural description. In Keith H. Basso and Henry A. Selby (eds.) Meaning in Anthropology. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, pp. 11–25.
Silverstein, Michael (2003) Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. Language and Communication 23: 193-229.
Van der Aa, Jef and Jan Blommaert (2011) Ethnographic monitoring: Hymes’s unfinished business in educational research. Anthropology and Education 42(4): 319-334.