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Ethnographic research Essay


Ethnographic research is aimed at understanding the main cultural peculiarities of the specific society with the purpose to understand their relations inside the society and with other cultures and societies.

Considering Margaret Mead’s ethnography, Coming of Age in Samoa, it is possible to say that dwelling upon that society she paid much attention to religion, education, upbringing and relation to each other within a family, the peculiarities of the temperament on the citizens of Samoan and the peculiarities of the development of the relationships of the adolescents between each other, their consideration of the surrounding world and other aspects.

Looking at the ethnographic research conducted by Margaret Mead, it is possible to say that the modern research should be conducted by means of using other methods and techniques due to the change of the situation in the world, political and economical changes, etc. Therefore, it may be stated that in comparison to Margaret Mead’s research, I would conduct my ethnography in Samoa differently nowadays.

Considering the possible techniques used for ethnographic research, it is important to remember the processual analysis discussed by Rosaldo (1993: 93). However, this is not the way for considering modern situation as the process is less important than the system which may be more informative.

Dominguez also believes that the consideration of the ethnography of the country is impossible without understanding the cultural peculiarities, legal aspects, social and political issues, etc. Thus, the system of the research should be implicated apart from the processual exploration.

Considering the problems which rise before modern Samoan adolescent boys and girls, it is important to conduct the ethnographic research using the systematic approach when different aspects of cultural and social life of the subjects are considered.

Before dwelling upon the particular methods for ethnographic research, it is important to understand which factors impact the development of the adolescents in Samoan and only then get down to the consideration of the Samoan ethnography. The current situation in the country is as follows.

The population in Samoan is reduced because of the migration of the country citizens to New Zealand, Australia, and the US. It is possible to predict that social and financial problems make people leave the places they were born and brought up. The very weak economy consisting of the tuna cannery (StarKist) is also influential. People want to have the financial stability, but its absence makes people change the place of their leaving and have other specific impacts of adolescents.

The country has a large service sector (tourism) and the public sector; and the unemployment rate is extremely high, raging from 25 to 30% depending on the region. Thus, it is possible to say that conducting ethnographic research and applying to different methods and techniques, it is important to remember about high impact of social and financial issues on the country development.

Conducting the ethnographic research of Samoan boys and girls I would consider the changes which have happened in the country for several decades. The changes have occurred and it is impossible to contradict this idea. Additionally, it is important to consider the sex differences, if any.

The consideration of the religious aspects is going to become the center of the research attention. More attention should be paid to language as the change of the language and the religious aspects may dwell upon the change of the impact on the nation and as a result the ethnography results may be interesting.

The changes of the attitude to religions and the language change may tell about the impact of another country on the life in Samoan. The ability to prove this aspect is rather significant for the researcher, thus, the historical documentation should be considered along with modern observations. The change of the territory density should be considered.

Thus, it may be obvious that the reduction of the population in one particular region may offer some particular reasons for citizens’ immigration to New Zealand, Australia, and the US. The language may be considered in the historical documents and compared and contrasted with the language used in media. The problems concerning the sex differences should also be considered as they may be important in understanding the social changes.

Coming closer to the discussion questions and trying to make sure that he correct strategy for research is used, the personal presence should be considered as the primary technique. Thus, being in the place which is going to be considered as long as possible should be one of the main instruments. The researcher is to observe the place having drawn some conclusions. However, the observation should not be considered as the most important aspect.

The researcher should make mapping, interviewing, and documentation as the primary instruments of the research. It is important to compare and contrast the results of the current research with the results of the research conducted previously or with the documents which depict the situation which was several years ago. The comparing and contrasting practice will allow the ethnographer to understand the changes which have happened in the society and as a result may follow the changes in the cultural and social spheres.

Focusing attention at one particular aspect, for example sex and the attitude to life, Margaret Mead tries to do all possible to consider only this aspect. However, living in the modern world and conducting ethnographic research under the current circumstances, it is impossible to consider the problem of sex from one singular perspective. It is important to consider the problem from different angles involving various situations and different aspects in its discussion.

Thus, while considering sex and the attitude to life in Samoan, it sis important to check social and political preferences, religious and family priorities, etc. It is important to understand that people are social beings and considering the ethnography of their lives, it is important to do it systematically as only the system may show the whole picture of the changes which have occurred and as a result help the research draw the correct conclusions.

Thus, the ethnographic researchers are to be conducted in complex and according to system. Having considered the Margaret Mead’s ethnography, Coming of Age in Samoa, it was concluded that the modern conditions dictate some particular rules for research conduction.

Conducting an ethnographic research devoted to Samoan adolescent boys and/or girls, it is important to consider the changes which have occurred in the society and try to apply those changes to others. Additionally, one should understand that in case the changes are too obvious, it does not mean that a thorough research with the personal presence should not be conducted.

Works Cited

Dominguez, Virginia. Invoking Culture: The Messyb side of “Cultural Politics”. South Atlantic: Duke University Press, 1992. Print.

Mead, Margaret. Coming of Age in Samoa. New York: The American Museum of National History, 1793. Print.

Rosaldo, Renaro. Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis. Boston MA: Beacon, 1993. Print.

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