Saturday, January 15, 2011
Learning Journal 2
I've been thinking about the reading and what it means to be either an observer or participant in field research. It is an interesting distinction because the effect you could have on your research may come, in large part, as a result of how you approach the information gathering stage. Reflecting on which method is better, it seems a combination of the two would yield the greatest results in most situations. Observation would allow me to view things as they appear with little to no interference on my part. I could observe what landscapes do exist, what areas around a home are used for, and further develop a plan from that point. With direct participation, I think that would include interviews with those who have landscapes, those who don't, and how public areas might be maintained. By participating it is strange to see, as the author pointed out, that some sense of objectivity should be maintained. A field study means interacting with the people of a new culture, but developing the emic or etic perspective also has its benefits. In terms of analyzing Tongan use of edible and ornamental plantings, there is little to deal with in terms of ethics. But I can see that it is good to be aware of cultural understandings so as to enhance my own understanding.