Ethnography Is Not Participant Observation: Reflections on the Interview as Participatory Qualitative Research
Holy and Stuchlik con dently pronounced that the doing of anthropology has always been presented as act of going out into the field in order to study what people are actually doing. Ingold has recently reminded us that ‘anthropology is not ethnography’, a point we will return to presently and which we also wish to add to in pointing out that ethnography is not participant observation. Gans has provided a cogent argument for returning to the distinction that used to exist between participant observation and ethnography. Hockey’s argument that interview-based studies are ethnographic, or more specifically are a culturally appropriate form of participatory research, remains remarkably unchallenged in anthropological literature. Giddens makes a telling point about social actors commonly knowing more about what they are up to and its consequences than social scientists often give them credit for (1990: 309). Back notes the belief that hearing is the last human faculty to die—that listening connects people at a profound level.