Written by a leading authority, Thinking Ethnographically discusses a wide range of analytic ideas that can and should inform ethnographic analysis. In introducing the notion of “granular ethnography” it argues for an approach to qualitative research that is sensitive to the complexities of everyday social life. A much-needed antidote to superficial research and analysis, the text deals not merely with the practical methods of fieldwork, but with the far more ambitious enterprise of turning ethnographic data into productive ideas and concepts. Author Paul Atkinson enables us not merely to do ethnography, but truly to think ethnographically. His book will prove invaluable to students and researchers across the social sciences.
There is a recurrent paradox among ethnographic studies. Some of them pay remarkably little attention to what people actually do in their everyday lives. And even researchers who pay lip service to the principles of (symbolic) interactionist sociology can often overlook the nature of organised social interaction itself. This is partly because people are far too keen to focus on others’ reported activity (through interviews) than to pay sufficiently close attention to what they actually do and how they do it (Jerolmack and Khan 2014; Maynard 2014). The latter is important. We do not study social encounters just in order to observe individuals or to report on their quirky behaviour, engaging though that may be. We focus on the interaction order, as Goffman ...