Your Immersion Project for this course is essentially ethnographic research. When you hear the words ethnography or ethnographic research, you may think of Margaret Mead or Franz Boas performing their research on cultures outside their own countries and living among their research subjects. Contemporary ethnographic research includes many other types of research scenarios, such as urban ethnography, neighborhood studies, and even microstudies of groups as small as families and individuals. Ethnography is any systematic study of people and cultures, usually conducted through observation, interviews, dialogues, participation, and historical research. Ethnography is used across disciplines as varied as anthropology, linguistics, sociology, advertising, and of course, human services and social work.
Your Immersion Project is just that—a study of a population group with the goal of better understanding the culture of the group. As you complete this project over the course of the semester, keep in mind one of the classical hallmarks of ethnographic research, pioneered by Boas: The beliefs and activities of humans have to be interpreted within their own cultural terms and not evaluated or judged through the cultural lens or terms of the observer or researcher. That is, human beliefs and behavior are culturally relative.
This week, you submit your Immersion Project Paper, one of two culminating parts of your Final Project for this course (along with your narrated PowerPoint, which is due in Week 10).
This 7- to 10-page paper will be a culmination of what you have experienced and explored throughout your work on this project. Since everyone’s experience will be different, the content of the paper will vary for each student; however, there are two sections that everyone should include:
- Reflection on your Immersion Project:
- Observation: What observational activity did you attend and what insight did it give you into your selected population?
- Dialogue: How did you carry out your dialogue? Reflect on your experience and what insight it gave you into your selected population.
- Reaction and Critical Analysis of your experience: This section should incorporate your reflections on your experiences, what you learned about the group, what you learned about yourself, and how your perceptions of this group have changed over time.
Several areas to address in this section:
- Description of the group
- Values/belief orientation
- Social interactions (relationships within and between group members)
- Religious/spiritual beliefs
- Roles and expectations
- Language and communication