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Descriptive Observations of Social Settings Workbook: Ethnographic Domains

Filling out the Worksheet

Appendix 2 of this Workbook provides a worksheet for beginning an analysis using the domains briefly introduced above. On the first page of the worksheet, the ethnographer(s) are asked to fill Workbook for Descriptive Observations of Social Settings 7 in the following information: (1) the title of the project; (2) the date of the observation; (3) the name of the observe; (4) the name of the recorder, if different from the observer; (5) the beginning time of the observation; (6) the ending time of the observation; and (7) the project phase, if the project is broken into phases, and the number and/or title of the phase. The next line asks the recorder to select an ethnographic domain for his or her field notes. Following is a more detailed description of the general domains discussed above, with a place for “other domains” for the analysis of data that the ethnographer/team does not feel are covered in the 17 General Descriptive Domain categories provided. Following the further descriptions of these domain categories is a final section detailing human needs domain category. The ethnographic team should make many copies of this worksheet, because one sheet or more is needed for every domain revealed in their data, and data will be provided on multiple domains. The data that will be entered into these Generalized Domain Worksheets (GDWs) will come primarily from the notes taken from the GRS, particularly from items 5 through 15. (1) The Social Setting, which, as described earlier, includes the various attributes of the scene which is being observed or studied. For, example if the setting is a building (e.g., a church), one may want to record size, physical features, the internal organization of the church (i.e., where various rooms are situated), and the location of the room in which the particular room that the scene being observed takes place. If the setting is an outside venue (e.g., a street corner, a park, a playground, etc), the ethnographer may want to record how the area looks, what is inside the setting, and what surrounds it, or is found in the immediate vicinity or proximity. (2) The Physical Environment. This particular domain is highly related to social setting, and in some instance may overlap to the extent that they are not treated as two separate domains, in terms of what surrounds the setting, or is found in the immediate vicinity. For example in the observation of an urban setting, one may describe the features of the neighborhood in which that setting is located. (3) Space and the Objects in the Setting. Here we are returning to the inside of the setting being observed, and observing the layout of the space in which the act, activity, or event that is being observed, including specific objects. The ethnographer may also want to assess whether the objects might have any specific meaning. For example, within a religious setting, there may be numerous objects that have powerful symbolic meanings. But meanings may be also be found in the way the room in the church in which the act, activity, or event being observed is situated, such as the elevation of the pulpit, where the choir sits, etc. (4) Actors in the Setting. Record the number of people in the setting. Then describe those people, in terms of such characteristics as sex, age, ethnicity, height, weight, skin color, and other general features that might have some significance in understanding behavioral interactions. You should give each actor a pseudonym or a five digit ID number (beginning with 00001), as this maybe someone you may have future opportunities to observe or interview. (5) Events. If the scene being observed is a planned activity, get as much information on the purpose of the event. If this is not written or explicit, look for possible tacit reasons that this event is taking place. (6) Time. What is the time of day, day of the week, time of the month, and month or season of the year that this setting is being observed. Workbook for Descriptive Observations of Social Settings 8 (7) Individual Behavior. Observe and record specific behavioral acts that are taking place at the event. If possible include characteristics of behavior that might have meaning. For example, did the behavior appear animated, tense, stiff, lackadaisical, etc. (8) Activities. Record whether there are groups of behavioral acts that seem to be related. Here, the various activities of an event may be recorded, and then broken down into specific acts, or the reverse may be done, in which acts are noted, and then patterns are looked for in terms of the relationships between acts. (9) Actor Groups. Are there ways that the actors in the setting are related, linked or differentiated? (10) Interactive Patterns between the actors in the setting, including patterns of dominant and subordinate personality, i.e., do certain actors seem to defer to or be controlled by other actors? Or are there compatible behaviors or opposing behaviors between one or more set of actors? Are there actors who seem to facilitate or instigate a particular type of behavior between the set of actors? (11) Language. Is the event, and activities and/or acts being carried out in a particular language? Do communication breakdowns seem to be occurring because of language differences? In general record comment from participants that strikes observer as interesting, curious, etc. Please remember to give attention to the following in writing your notes: content (what is said); participation (who said what for what audience); method (how something is said, i.e., low/high volume and clarity); location (where it is said); time and routinization (when said and whether there is a pattern?); and rationale (what seems be the purpose or reason behind what is be

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