This original and authoritative exploration of ethnographic writing comes from one of the world's leading academics in the field, Paul Atkinson. The third book in his seminal quartet on ethnographic research, it provides thoughtful, reflective guidance on a crucial skill that is often difficult to master. Informed throughout by extracts from Paul’s own writing, this book explores and examines a broad range of types and genres of ethnographic writing, from fieldnotes and ‘confessions’, to conventional ‘realist’ writing and more. Whilst highlighting the possibilities and implications of ethnographic text, this valuable resource will help those conducting ethnographic research select and adopt the most appropriate approach for their study.
As I have suggested already, ethnographic texts have their distinctive genres and conventions. In the course of this chapter I want to explore some of the conventions that inform a fairly commonplace style of composition. I shall, for convenience, call it ‘realist’ writing, though I am conscious of the fact that the term ‘realism’ carries a good deal of conceptual baggage. The problem of nomenclature here is a real one. It is conventional to refer to realism, but of course that begs too many questions. It implies that there is but one (broad) approach to constructing and representing ‘reality’, whereas the inspection of ethnographic texts shows that social realities can be expressed in many different styles and genres. It can, perhaps, also ...