Ethnographic Fieldnotes: The Foundations of Ethnography


Ethnographic fieldnotes are the notes, usually written in situ while human action and interaction takes place, made by the observer who is conducting participant observation, fieldwork, or ethnography. They are the basic data that ethnography produces and are subsequently expanded, amplified, and analysed by the researcher. The observer records what is experienced with all five senses. Fieldnotes are the raw data of ethnography and they are understood and transformed as they are fitted into a series of contexts that are gradually further from the fieldsite contexts. The contexts which come from the literature, from theory, and from the initial analyses of the data are incorporated during the work on the other writing that ethnographers have to do, such as theses, and the publication of articles, monographs, and confessional or autobiographical texts.

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