TEAM Ethnography: A Comparison Between Perspectives of Different Researchers
Although ethnography is conceived in the collective imagination as a solitary activity, a good deal of sociological and anthropological research is often the result of teamwork (Douglas, 1976; Salzman, 1989). The methodological reflection on team ethnography was launched (Erikson and Stull 1998; Mitteness and Barker 2004; Fortune and Mair, 2011), but still needs to be developed.
The research experience in two neighbourhoods of public housing involved a group of researchers and it was therefore distinct from that of classic studies in which the ethnographer alone immerses him/herself in the field. Being a team meant that researchers were engaged in an exercise in which they had to deal not only with the social actors in the field, but also with each other. Through their ‘ethnographic performance’ they were almost always able to arrive at shared, inter-subjective interpretations.
Ethnographic research has been used in order to compare two different neighbourhoods. Team ethnography aimed to the comparison of different perspectives.
The paper proposes a reflection in particular on the various activities relative to access to the field, immersion in it, note-taking, and interpreting the information gathered. Through the analysis of different aspects of ethnographic research in the two neighbourhoods – managing the entry into the various situations, gaining trust, coping with emotional problems, dealing with polysemy in interpretations – advantages and drawbacks of team work in ethnography will be highlighted.