Study of Ethnography

High School ・Anthropology ・MLA

This is a story about Ethnography. I walk into the Tennis Center after participating in the clean-up exercise with other members of the environmental club. I have been invited by the chairperson to show up in the chess competition dubbed "play chess, go green" after showing interest that I wanted to use the event to conduct a study on social norms. Already, I am thrilled, and the entire mood of the hall is epic. At about 3 in the evening, the place is already full of jeers and cheers from the group. I can attest that through random numbering I counted about seventy students; amongst them, forty-five were males and the rest female. The event starts after twenty minutes and to my shock the crowd shifts from cheer mode to serenity. From where I stood, I observed that the group had divided itself into two. The first group which carried around thirty students stood behind Raul (a member of environment club) while approximately the same number stood on behind Douglas ( a name was given to the chairman of the club). The remaining students were scattered across, and they often moved from one group to another.

I primarily used the emic approach whereby I deduced several reactions based on hypothesis. I also watched and asked various questions about the culture from different characters. The event was one of its kinds, and it was surely going to be how it unfolded because as the environmental club is known for the entire Queens' College for its prowess in event planning and organization. I was indeed lured to this event by its reputation and also as a member of the environmental club.

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Back to my notebook, as I recorded my observations, I started to identify some individuals were fumbling their fingers and sometimes scratching their heads. Ladies would only mutter "aa" whenever they felt disappointed and shrike when a winning move was made. The young man standing by my side (would refer him as Andrew) often clinched his fists and sometimes scrub my shoulders with fists as he raised them above his shoulders. I was particularly interested in his behavior. I then realize that every moment Douglas gets a rookie Andre repeats the actions. I begin to think perhaps he does while unconscious because his response on the face and fist is often concurrent. On the opposite side, I notice a lady who is always nodding her head, clenching her teeth and interestingly no other part of her body seems to shift an inch. A lot of events happen, and I decide to make a sketch as indicated below.

I am challenged when I try to understand the concepts of the game and the reaction of the people. Adhering to the theory of immersion and integration in multiple subjects is difficult in my case. I focus on students and forget I need the informants. I found myself straining under various circumstances especially when conducting interviews. The field notes I wrote and the analysis I did is presented below

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Students were nodding their heads-appreciation of a move made especially for counter attacks.

A student gnashed his teeth and jaws-regrets and loss

Players scratched their heads-student thinking so hard

A crowd observes a moment of silence before the game starts. To remember Peter (former chess champions who succumbed to cancer)

Shoulders droop when Queen is taken- a sign of remorse and losing

Body often surges forward when Queen makes a move- expectations emanating from the move

During my post analysis, I realized that each action I observed and interviewed about had its relevance in this group. It enhanced the bondage and social interactions amongst them. People would share laughter and jokes to melt tense atmosphere engulfing the hall. It was also a platform for making new friends and to enforce the purpose of the environmental club. The event also encouraged co-existence among group members and thus fostered societal awareness of the environment and cultures. It was also an event worth to attend because it defined the objective of the group. Therefore, everyone who attended had a purpose to fulfill.

The motto of Queens College, ‘we learn so that we may serve’ is indicated in this event. The college is known for providing ‘the future’ to students and also giving quality and affordable services. The evidence of fulfillment of this obligation is shown by the large number of minorities. As a college, it creates environments which enhance the growth of students, develop their life skills, explore other exotic ideas and presume environmental roles. The school creates conditions where ethnic, religious and other social aspects are catered. To achieve all these goals, the college supports various initiatives such as the chess which was sponsored by the administration (proceeds would be used to buy new dustbins). The school also supports leadership development and small group’s interactions. Therefore in this setting, the college shows how it values social interactions. It commits to provide a favorable environment where students meet for the game, work together and thus share ideas. The staff also shows its support for groups affairs through event organization and financing. It also helps in publicizing and planning for such incidents. Every student organization at Queens College is always advised to seek the guidance and support of the administration. The whole event and processes that led to its occurrence indicate the contribution of the college to social norms and interactions. The efforts put by the college indicate how it is featured in the school. The college influence is felt by individuals, groups and the whole population of students.

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The survey taught me various aspects of research and the challenges of applying theories in the process. I could barely relate the theories to the actual study. However, the study was enlightening in the aspect that it showed me how social norms are vital for groups and organizations.

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