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Interpretive Political ScienceSelected Essays, Volume II$
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R. A. W. Rhodes

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786115

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786115.001.0001

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On Ethnography

On Ethnography

(p.39) 3 On Ethnography
Interpretive Political Science

R. A. W. Rhodes

Oxford University Press

Part II of the book turns to the genres of thought in the humanities and explores their relevance to political science. It asks the simple question ‘what can we learn?’ This chapter provides a basic introduction to ethnography for political scientists. It begins by distinguishing between naturalist and interpretive ethnography and between studying-down and studying-up, providing an example of each. Second, the chapter reviews the shared toolkit, focusing on fieldwork, participant observation, and ethnographic interviewing. Third, and at the heart of the chapter, it surveys the defining debates surrounding ethnographic methods arising from the ‘culture wars’ of the 1980s in cultural anthropology: the problems of representation, generalization, objectivity, explanation, and reflexivity. Finally, the chapter offers some comments on future trends in political ethnography, focusing on, for example, hit-and-run ethnography, and ‘new’ methods for recovering data.

Keywords:   genre blurring, cultural anthropology, participant observation, elite ethnography, ethnographic interviewing, interpretation, objectivity, explanation, reflexivity, hit-and-run ethnography

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