This homework assignment involves developing observational skills as a field researcher.
For this purpose, you will:
1) spend some time (in two, distinct 10-minute observation periods) observing social life and taking field notes (you can keep your notes on a mobile device or in a notebook).
2) write up a 1-page analysis of what you have observed using your sociological imagination.
Setting: The Seattle Pike Place Fish Market.
You can gain visual access to this setting between the daily working hours of 7am-5:30pm PST here:
Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and open the livecam on the left-hand side to begin each 10-minute observation.
What you will submit for the assignment
A 3+ page document, consisting of:
At least one full page of field notes for each 10-minute observation (worth 3 points each)
At least one full page of sociological analysis based on your notes (4 points)
Guide for Observing:
Examine the activity and any repeated or ritual behavior with fresh eyes, as if you have never seen a setting like this before. Who is there? What kinds of rules do people seem to follow? What happens if someone appears to break one of these rules? Do you observe people interacting who seem to take on different roles?
Take notes that allow you to “show,” not “tell.” Jot down these details so that your readers can visualize the scene.
Can you observe anything about the gender, race, age, or social-class dynamics at play in this setting?
How does this exercise affect you? Does taking notes make you feel different than you think you would if you were just “there?”
Guide for Analysis:
First paragraph: Give a 3-5 sentence summary of what you observed.
Additional paragraphs: What general themes or pattern(s) did you observe? Provide specific examples from your reported field notes that illustrate these.
Final paragraph: What strengths or weaknesses did you perceive with visual ethnography as your research method? What questions would you have wanted to ask people if you were interviewing them about the setting or what you were observing?