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.
Social selves and identities are precisely that – social. While our ethnographies are about social actors, that is by no means the same as simplistic notions that we are dealing with ‘persons’ whose personhood is fixed or given. Identities are made and sustained through everyday interactions, through encounters, and through the ceremonial forms of everyday life (Williams 2000). Consequently, as ethnographers, we need to analyse the multiplicity of ways in which social actors are constructed and constrained. We need of course to examine how they express their preferred identities to one another, and how those are sustained or challenged in the course of their everyday life and work. That is why I have singled out issues in this chapter that are rather familiar ...