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The production of an ethnography : some methodological and substantive issues for analyzing social setttings Katz, Bruce Allen

Abstract

This study seeks to provide an analysis of some of the features which underly any ethnographic description. First, it focuses on the daily routine of a community medical clinic in a large city in Western Canada, then it "looks back" on the methodological and theoretical issues inherent in the production of any ethnography. A daily routine known as "chart rounds" (a review of patients' medical histories) is examined in detail. That description itself then becomes a topic of inquiry in its own right. The analysis rests on field observations conducted over a year and a half within the research setting. During this period the researcher was privy to medical examinations, to chart rounds, and to much of the ongoing routine of the Clinic. I was also able to tape-record various aspects of its organization. Most of the material which I have analyzed consists of transcriptions taken from tape recordings of doctor-patient interviews and of chart rounds. Some of the issues which will be given special attention are (1) the beginning of the ethnographic report and the relationship of this section to the subsequent sections of an ethnography; (2) how it is that ethnographic descriptions are necessarily based in a set of common sense relevancies; (3) the use of 'talk' in interaction and as a source of data for "discovering" the self-organizing features of the settings and occasions from which this talk is collected; and (4) the relationship between ethnographic description and the researcher in the research setting. The research reported here is to be seen as exploratory and tentative. It is not intended as a -manual for ethnographic researchers, but as an attempt to explicate some of the organizational features in the construction of an ethnographic description. No doubt it raises many more questions than it answers, but its purpose will be satisfied if it is able to generate some debate about the organization of ethnographies.

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