Saturday, April 02, 2005

Chapter Eleven of The Ethnographic Interview (Spradley, 1979)

How to do a taxonomic analysis?
First, select a tentative focus. For example which part of the sailing trip do we want to find out more, like kinds of storms, ways to pass time on watch, parts of the ship, etc. It takes either:
1. Surface analysis: to find out as many domains as possible. Aim: holistic view of a culture.
2. In-depth analysis: to find out as many information as possible on a few selected domains. Aim: to unpack the complexity of a culture.

Development research sequence steps begin with a wide focus then narrow down in this flow:
1. Locating an informant
2. Interviewing an informant
3. Making an ethnographic record
4. Asking descriptive questions
5. Analysis ethnographic interviews
6. Making a domain analysis
7. Asking structural questions
8. Making a taxonomic analysis
9. Asking contrast questions
10. Making a componential analysis
11. Discovering cultural themes
12. Writing the ethnography

How to decide on particular domain(s)?
1. From informant's suggestions (don't directly ask him/her to suggest!)
2. Theoretical interest (which side of the story you want to know), e.g. kinds of teachers, kinds of groups in school.
3. Strategic ethnography (goal of study), e.g. to find out the extent to which the jail was a dehumanizing experience for inmates.
4. Organizing domains: what comes up naturally - perhaps the most suitable for first timers?

Folk Taxonomies
A folk taxonomy is a set of categories organized on the basis of a single semantic relationship (it actually works like common sense). For example, the categorization of parts of a police department. That it consists of Patorl, Administrative, Investigative, Chief, and Internal Affairs. And that to report a bike stealing, is to report to Juvenile which is under Crimes against Property (not the Crime against People) together with Auto Theft, and Burglary.

Steps in doing Taxonomic Analysis:
1. Select a domain for taxonomic analysis: start with the one we have the most information of.
2. Identify the appropriate substitution frame for analysis. Substitution frame is the tool that organize all included terms into Subset. For example, bull's barber (included terms) is a kind of barber (subset), inmate's barber is a kind of barber, head trusty is a kind of trusty (p.145).
3. Search for possible subsets among the included terms (see above example).
4. Search for larger domains (bigger hugger to give title to all the subsets), e.f. kinds of people in the bucket.
5. Construct a tentative taxonomy.
6. Formulate structural questions to verify taxonomic relationships and elicit new terms.
7. Conduct additional structural interviews (when necessary).
8. Construct a completed taxonomy.

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