chapter  5
Independent fieldwork: reflexivity, case studies, interviews and writing up
Pages 32

This chapter is about doing fieldwork on your own. Maybe you have to do a study as part of a taught module, such as one about contemporary religion, or perhaps you have to design and carry out some research during a field study tour abroad. Fieldwork may be a part of your dissertation research or you might be doing a placement where you stay with a religious community for a few days or weeks. In all these situations you will be using and developing skills, and ways of thinking, that are similar to the ones we have been discussing so far in this book. The difference in this chapter is that we will explore in more detail the ethnographic methods you might want to use, and will refer you to examples of extended studies of religious individuals and groups, where you can get inspiration, practical ideas and plenty of interesting discussion about studying religion in the field. This chapter will be more practical than chapter 2, where we covered the more theoretical aspects, and you will get lots of concrete suggestions and examples about how to approach your individual fieldwork. Most student fieldwork will not be full-blown ethnography: you aren’t going

to spend months or years in the field studying a particular culture, tradition or person. You probably aren’t doing anthropology for your degree – although some of you reading this may be – and the most you may have done is a lecture or a module on the anthropology of religion. Nevertheless, if you are going to study religion in the field you are going to be using ethnographic methods. To do that well means being able to reflect on the process, so this chapter begins with the topic of reflexivity.